It was just another lazy Sunday afternoon at home. I climbed into the car with my father with a generous basket of prepackaged food and a brightly wrapped gift bag. We silently puttered along the usual route navigating through the congestion of the city with ambiguous ease. The ride was silent except for the faint chalky voice of Bob Dylan over the radio. The stop sign appeared in front of us; we turned down the street and pulled up into the driveway. The six cylinders rested their pistons as I followed him to the front door.
Knock… Knock… No answer. My father rustled through his pockets for the key and finally managed to strangle it into the lock. The door opened and we went inside among the awkward silence of an empty home. She stood there in the doorway staring with an invisible intensity toward our two looming figures. I presented the basket like a blood offering to a sacrificial alter and saw it placed on the table-thrust to the side. The singular slam of the back door hailed the return of my grandfather from the bustle of the garage next door. He quickly floated to us with an exuberance barren within the rest of the house. His coarse hands prodded the basket with a hungry joy as he mumbled syllables to my grandmother in repetition. She nodded a little and I could plainly identify the sternness of her hands as she clasped them together in a death grip.
“Mom, what have you had to eat?” My father asked with caring authority.
“What.. Nothing… I’m not hungry… I don’t want anything.” She answered slowly but with a negativity proving for certain she heard all his words clearly. Then he motioned toward the basket and took a step forward. Immediately, she stepped backward away from us all, overwhelmed with anxiety and paranoia.
“But Grandma, you have to have something to eat” I chimed in.
“Here, eat your waffle.”
“What… I don’t want it.”
“You need to eat it”
“What…No.” I could hear the dog barking from behind the door. My grandpa motioned to the knob and opened the door allowing the cat-sized barking football to escape. He ran toward my grandma and begged for attention with his small chicken legs clawing playfully at her feet. She feebly shook him off and continued to resist in her constant state of hopeless melancholy. Her apathy was unmistakable as she breathed on fear and nervous anxiety all over us. Hours past by.
“Grandma, we’re going home now. Finish your soup.”
“What… I’m not hungry… What… No,” she replied without raising her brow. Her feet hovered on the linoleum floor as she tentatively held her ground at the doorway- watching us step out the door. The drive home was quiet but the sun was bright, reflecting its light off the snow and saturating the streets with its warm luster.
Seeing my grandma in such a condition is nonetheless painful for me every time I step into that house, but it is the continued resilience of our family to support her and care for her that gives me the capacity to continue to visit her. Her mood fluctuates from visit to visit and her strength of will to resist our aid is incredible. She still fears the outside, although, our visits have been much appreciated when they comprise food from the deli or local marketplace. More than anything, the continuous battle my grandpa and father wage makes me more and more convinced that belief, in people, all people, is crucial to survival. Believing in my grandma and my family makes me love them even more while at the same time assisting me in viewing myself and the rest of the world in a brighter spectrum of light. In the darkness light shows brighter than ever and in my life that light is a belief in those around me no matter how dim their light may appear. Belief: with it there is hope in life and without it there is nothing. And so I choose to believe.
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