Her Point of View
By Crystal Hayduk
When the 11 p.m. news ended, Evelyn climbed the stairs to her bedroom. She held the handrail that her son, Robert, had installed at his wife’s insistence ten years ago when death stole her companion of nearly 60 years.
She liberally applied moisturizer, guided by her blurry reflection. Her eyes used to be a clear ice blue, but now they were dull – just like her life. Dragging her nightgown over her head bothered her shoulder and left her breathing fast and shallow. Evelyn leaned on the vanity with both hands until her breathing slowed.
Then with a sigh, she trudged to bed. Lying in the dark, she thought about the next day. Another week with with nowhere to go, no one to see, nothing to look forward to. Not long ago, she did things with friends at least three times a week.
But that was before her son took her car keys. He thought two accidents in two months were two too many. But nobody was hurt in the simple fender benders. It wasn’t her fault that someone parked where they shouldn’t have.
Maybe her daughter-in-law could take her out tomorrow for lunch and shopping. Shirley had a job, but why couldn’t she take the day off? Evelyn wanted to hear about what the grandchildren were doing these days. They hardly ever visited since becoming teenagers. With a plan to phone Shirley first thing in the morning, Evelyn drifted to sleep.
The next morning, Evelyn awakened before she felt ready to face the day, but her bladder insisted she get out of bed anyway. When she remembered her plan to call Shirley, she decided to hurry in hopes of catching her before she left for work.
But her tired legs didn’t work quite right. And suddenly, with a flash of pain in her back, she was on the floor.
“Mom! I need poster board for my group project and it’s due tomorrow.”
Shirley glanced at the digital clock on the kitchen counter as she finished loading the dishwasher. “Michael, it’s almost 10:30!” She yelled down the hall towards the boys’ bedrooms. “Why did you wait till now to tell me you need something for tomorrow?”
Her teenage son strolled by and grabbed a banana from the fruit bowl. “David said he’d get it, but he forgot. He’s home alone, and you’re here, so….” His voice trailed off.
“You expect me to go out at this time of night for poster board? Are you going to do the laundry while I’m gone? And when am I finally going to get to sleep? You know I work every day, right?” Shirley heard herself screaming the series of questions. She didn’t like how she sounded. But she didn’t like how everyone expected something of her, either.
Turning her back on Michael, she snarled, “Go ask your father to help you.”
“But he’s asleep on the couch.”
Shirley muttered, “Of course. He’s sleeping - while I’m still taking care of this.” Grabbing her keys, she didn’t dare open her mouth before slamming the door behind her. She had some choice words about her husband and her oldest son that were best kept to herself.
Much later, after finishing the laundry, she finally made it to the bedroom. As she climbed into bed, her husband followed. Energized by his evening nap, he flipped on the television.
“Do you mind? I’d like to go to sleep.” Shirley said.
“I’m just gonna watch a little Jimmy Kimmel to help me relax,” said Robert.
Shirley sat up in bed and, in no uncertain terms, let Robert know how she felt about juggling her job, the kids, the house – and the needs of his mother.
“I’m telling you, Robert,” she said, with tears in her eyes and a finger poking his chest, “the next time one thing happens with Evelyn, that’s it. She’s going to have to go to a nursing home. I can’t handle everything anymore. I can’t do it all!”
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