THE EMPTY PURSE

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Awhile ago I wrote about a woman I know who is slowly fading away from the woman she used to be.  Her life journey will now be taking another turn as she will be entering a care facility.  Her life of “endless possibilities” has shrunk to one room and a bath.  Her future includes being fed and wearing adult diapers.  And still she smiles and laughs and dances funny little jigs.  Tears sting my eyes as I write this and my heart aches with pain for this courageous woman.  We went out today.  Nice long drive up the North Shore. Hamburgers at our favorite fast food place, now eaten in the car instead of going in as all the distractions make eating more difficult for her.  A stop in a greenhouse where she longingly caresses a pair of purple gardening gloves eventho she has multiple pairs at home.  Gardening was a passion of hers now reduced to pulling grass around that which others have planted.   A trip into a department store includes countless reminders that she needs to put back that which she just picked up to take.  At the checkout, she takes our bag and then tries repeatedly to take the pad that is on the counter for scanning purposes  as the young clerk looks on with an air of impatience.  Oh how I wish I could shield her from all the odd looks she gets when her behavior is not that of a “normal” person.  I want to scream out that she was once brilliant and beautiful and talented and successful.  That her behaviors are not who she  IS.  That she is a superhero disguised in a broken body.  My Super Hero.  My teacher.  My inspiration.  My friend.   Back home she busies herself with her “work” (moving little piles of old photos, ads, subscription card inserts, pieces of papers from one spot to another) hoping for a chance to be helpful.  I notice she has a small purse, worn across her body  and as she sits beside me I reflect on how that small, empty purse is a symbol of her life now.  I’m sure she must have had many a purse, filled with all those important things we women can’t leave home without: keys, cell phone, make-up, day planner, wallet, brush, etc.  Everything that an independent person would need.  And now she wears a worn, little bag filled with nothingness.  And still she smiles and laughs and dances funny little jigs….

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