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Forgotten Treasures - The Conclusion
Okay, in order to get to the end of this story in a timely manner I decided to speed things up a little. First, yesterday I actually posted two entries, so don't start on this one until you've read both posts from yesterday. Secondly, this last post is rather long. When I first started posting this story I didn't realize how long it actually was. I want to thank all of you who have stuck with it and for all the kind words along the way. I hope you enjoy the rest of the story. ~Tom
The living room was off to the left and Jenny could see that someone was sitting in a recliner watching The Price is Right. All of the curtains were drawn and the room was mostly dark, but the flickering, blue light of the television revealed that it was the same woman from the yard sale. The volume was extremely loud and Sarah, sensing that an explanation was needed, spoke over her shoulder, "She's a little hard of hearing."
Sarah led her through the small kitchen to a two person table that was set up in a breakfast nook. The three windows in the nook were also covered up by drawn curtains and Sarah reached up to pull them open. The sunlight streamed in quickly, revealing a quaint, little area that had white, tiled floors and walls that were pale, mustard
yellow. There were pictures of chickens all over the walls and chicken decorations everywhere. In fact, there were more chicken decorations in the kitchen than Jenny had ever seen in her life.
Sarah pointed to the table, "Have a seat and I'll pour us some coffee."
Jenny put the jewelry box on the floor by the table and then sat down. She glanced out the window and noticed the beautiful view of a flower garden. Even though it was obviously neglected everything was green and vibrant. There was a small birdbath where four or five small, colorful birds were enjoying their morning dip. She watched them for a second and then turned towards Jenny, "Why do you keep it so dark in here?"
Sarah came back with two cups of coffee and sat down across from her. She pointed to the cream and sugar then began to speak, "Mom doesn't like the windows open; she believes that someone is watching her."
Sarah started to say something else, but once again tears formed in her eyes. "I'm sorry", she sobbed.
Jenny reached out and touched her hand.
The two women sat across from one another and Jenny watched as the tears streamed down Sarah's face. Even though she didn't know this woman she somehow felt emotionally attached to her. She got out of her chair, placed an arm around Sarah's shoulder and held her as she cried.
When Sarah was finally able to speak she wiped the tears from her eyes with the palms of her hands and spoke in a soft voice, "I am so sorry that I broke down like that. I guess I've been holding it in for a long time. After this and what happened on the porch, you must really think that I'm a basket case."
Jenny handed her a paper towel to wipe the tears with, sat back down and answered caringly, "I don't think you're a basket case. I don't exactly know what's going on, but it's not hard to tell that you've been dealing with something that weighs heavy on you."
Sarah looked at Jenny and gave a half hearted, crooked smile as she cleaned her face off with the rough paper towel. "It's my mom", she said, "She has Dementia."
The mention of the word almost made her break into tears again, but she managed to keep them from coming this time. "I've been taking care of her for almost a year and I am just emotionally and physically drained. Lately, she's gotten extremely paranoid, that's why all of the curtains are closed. If I leave them open she won't come into the room."
Sarah went on, "I expected that something was going on a couple of years ago. I came over one afternoon to have lunch with her and when I opened up the pantry door the iron was sitting by the cans of green beans. I mentioned it to Mom and she just said, 'I was wondering where that was.' There were other things that should have clued me in, but to be perfectly honest I didn't want to think about it happening to her so I kept ignoring the signs, hoping that it would just go away. There were days that everything seemed OK. She would sit and talk to me like nothing was wrong, giving me advice like she used to do, and I would think, 'She's just fine.' But other days it was obvious that something just wasn't right. It all came to a head last year when I got a call from Mom's neighbor that he had found her in their back yard. She was wandering around, trying to find her way home. I made her a doctor's appointment and, before long, the doctor confirmed my biggest fear. I've been here almost every day since then and things have been getting progressively worse."
Jenny hardly knew what to say. Sarah had obviously needed someone to talk to. She struggled for the right words and then suddenly remembered the contents of the jewelry box, "What about you brother?"
Sarah looked up, surprised, "How do you know about my brother?"
"I saw his pictureâ€¦ in your mom's locket; the one that's in the jewelry box."
Jenny reached down, opened up the drawer and pulled out the chain and locket. She opened it up and showed it to Sarah.
Sarah's hand went over her mouth and she gave a silent gasp, "I haven't seen that locket in years. I didn't even know that she still had it."
She gently took the locket from Jenny's hand to examine it more closely. "That's my brother, Mitchell. He lives about thirty miles away. He helps me with the financial part of taking car of Mom, but he has a hard time visiting her. He just can't bear to be with her when she doesn't act the way that she used to."
Sarah continued to look at the locket as Jenny moved the jewelry box from the floor to the table. Jenny explained to Sarah how she came into possession of the box and then told her about the other items that she had as well. Sarah sat there in disbelief, trying to put it all together, "When did you say this happened?"
Jenny answered, "This past Saturday, shortly after noon. I know it was after 12:00 because I had just gotten off of work."
Sarah's eyes lit up, "That all makes sense because I didn't get here until almost 12:30 on Saturday. I noticed the card table and chair out in the yard, but when I asked Mom about it she simply shrugged her shoulders. She must have dragged it out into the yard by herself. It's a wonder that she didn't get hurt. I'm really surprised that she went outside though. Ever since the paranoia hit she hasn't stepped past the front door. I didn't know she had gotten rid of the jewelry box or the crochet blanket, but I did notice that the two birds were missing. There are actually eight of them. The other six are on a shelf in the living room. If you look at the bottom of the birds you can see letters on each one."
Jenny remembered seeing the letters when she was trying to find a manufacturing mark.
"My dad wrote one letter on each bird, I-L-O-V-E-Y-O-U, and gave them to her for Valentine's Day one year when I was just a kid. He called them 'Love Birds'. He was always doing silly, romantic things like that. They have been a permanent fixture in our house ever since that day and after Dad died, she grew really attached to them."
Jenny smiled at the story of the birds, "But how did she get the YARD SALE sign out by the road?"
Sarah rolled her eyes, "That sign was put up when my neighbors had their yard sale two weeks ago. They just never took it down."
Jenny still had more questions, "Why do you think she made up the story about her sister?"
Sarah thought for a moment, "There are a lot of things about this disease that I don't understand, but one of the doctors told me that sometimes people with Dementia make up things that really didn't happen. That must be what it is, but I really don't know for sure. She has never done it before, but I have a feeling that she may do it again."
Jenny looked at Sarah. She thought about the jewelry box and the forgotten treasures that were hidden safely inside of it. She spoke to Sarah in a reassuring voice, "Ever since I saw what was in this jewelry box I knew that something was wrong, that no one would just give it away. There are things in here that are special to you and I have no desire to keep it. I'll gladly bring the other things back too.
Sarah felt something stir inside that she thought was dead and gone. For the first time in a long time she felt as if life had come back into her soul. The two women exchanged a heartfelt glance and even though words weren't spoken they both knew that a special bond had formed between them. Sarah smiled at Jenny and realized that it was the first genuine smile that had crossed her face in at least a year. She thought about her mom and for once things didn't look so bad. Of course she would still have to be here for her and take care of her, but now she had someone to help her through it.
Sarah stood up from the little table and took a step towards Jenny, "So, would you like to meet Mom? I think The Price Is Right is almost over."
Jenny stood up beside her. "I would like that very much."
Then, the two women headed toward the noisy living room, arm in arm.
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What a lovely story. I enjoyed every minute of it. Thank you.
Oh me too. Thank you.
Very interesting and nicely written. I enjoyed it a lot too.