They Used to Call it a Hi-Fi
"So, we're preparing the house for when Phil comes home from Manor Care." My aunt's voice, reedy and faint, nearly drowns under the phone's static.
"Tell me what you're doing with the house," I reply, one hand holding the phone against my ear and because sometimes I am a terrible niece who merely plays at being a dutiful daughter, the other hand clicking my computer mouse. To save Ruth's feelings, I turn the monitor volume down so she can't hear its bright "You've got mail!" With her fading hearing, she probably wouldn't catch the robotic chirp in the background, but if she did, I know with certainty she would not remark on it. She already feels she is an imposition in my 600-mile distant life, enough so to be willing to share my complete attention. She is not an imposition. But I do need a slight fissure in the fortitude required to phone what used to be my home. And some of the sites I click are ones offering advice to primary caregivers.
Ruth answers my question. "Well, we're moving my bureau out of our bedroom so there is more room around the bed. And I'm taking the low chest out of the front hall, in case we need to move his wheelchair or his walker through there."
"Where is the furniture going?" I ask. I grew up in that house so I can picture each piece as she mentions it. The high-backed bureau with the distressed white paint, the chest under which we leave our shoes when I visit with my girls. Ruth's own daughters, Jeanne and Jan, will help Ruth move the heavy pieces.
"Well, the bureau is going downstairs. And Becky said she would take the stereo from the living room, so we could move the low chest into its place."
My finger stops mid-click.
"Do you remember that big stereo from the living room?" Ruth asks.Continued on the next page