excerpt from: the little girl with a bow in her hair
I veered off the main highway and kept my eyes open for a place to eat. Out of the corner of my eye I caught a sign that said ‘Mabel’s Diner – All Day Breakfast’ in 4 kilometers. ‘How does that sound Baba, Mom?’
Baba replied in her usual way, ‘great, I’m so hungry I could eat a Pig’.
‘Baba don’t you mean a horse?’
She smiled and without missing a beat said ‘Oh, I’m not THAT hungry!’
I couldn’t help but shake my head with a smirk on my face and say…
‘Okay, Mabel’s it is!’ as I put the pedal to the metal; I wasn’t sure how much longer Baba could last.
We walked into the diner and a young girl who couldn’t have been older than seventeen seated us in a booth. I was just about to ask the waitress a question when Baba piped up,
‘Excuse me dear, can you please tell me where your washrooms are?’
The waitress described the route towards the washrooms quickly, ‘you go down this aisle, turn left, then take a right, then go down the stairs, and its on your left.’
‘Excuse me?’ I said, ‘that seems like a maze’. I was hoping the waitress would show her the way, but she ran off to serve a table of young men.
‘Okay, why don’t we all go to the washroom together and then sit down and have a bite’ I said.
‘I think I should go alone, Baba said, because I really HAVE to GO’.
If this was some sort of riddle, it was over my head, but said ‘ok’.
‘Why don’t I take you down the stairs in case they are steep and wait for you outside the door?’
Meanwhile Mom cozied into the booth where I noticed there was a jukebox Mom seemed very interested in. She was flipping through the song list.
‘Mom, I’m going to take Baba downstairs and will be right back, you want to come with us, or do you want to stay here?’
Mom kept flipping the list without looking up answered ‘I’ll stay here’.
‘Okay we’ll be right back’.
I took Baba through the maze of directions, and when we reached the stairs was glad I had volunteered to escort her. The stairs were very steep and there was little light. I knew that with Baba’s eyesight, or lack there of, it would have been difficult for her by virtue of her macular degeneration. My eyes barely adjusted to the low light. We stood at the top of the stairs, Baba on the right by the handrail, me on her left with our arms intertwined. We took each step slowly for 15 steps. Baba had a habit of counting steps whether she was going up or down. I took her to the ‘women’s washroom’, on the left, opened the door and brought her in.
She looked at me smiling and said, ‘thank you, but I think I can handle the rest myself’.
‘Here, let me take your purse’, I said. She handed me her purse, which was another deceivingly heavy piece of baggage. ‘Baba, what do you have in here? No wonder you have strong arms!’ She just chuckled and said ‘I don’t have time right now, gotta go’.
I smiled, then closed the door behind me and waited.
I must have looked like a guard, as I stood reading the quotes framed on the wall in the darkened hallway. Minutes passed and I knocked on the door to make sure she was ok.
‘Almost done, be there in a minute’, she said.
I could hear the water running from the faucet, now it was just a matter of time. She opened the door, exhaled and said ‘wow, almost didn’t make it’.
Raising my eyebrows, I said ‘that’s good, I guess’.
She reached over to take her purse and I said ‘I’ll carry it up and hand it over to you when we get upstairs’.
‘Don’t be silly, I’m not that old, I can take it!’ she exclaimed, motioning to me to give her the purse.
‘Okey dokey, then let’s get going’, I said, as I carefully placed the weighty piece of baggage on her shoulder.
We walked to the bottom of the stairs, looked up, and together arm in arm, hiked, and counted out loud, 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10, 11, 12,13, 14, and 15.
We strolled back to the table, as the ascent seemed to wind Baba, and to be perfectly honest, myself.
Mom was sitting in the booth still flipping the song list. By now, there were 3 menus placed on the table. Baba slowly sat herself next to Mom, while I took the opposite end of the booth.
The waitress noticing we were all together came and asked if we wanted a coffee or tea.
‘I’ll have a coffee’
‘Mom, you want a coffee?’
Without taking her eyes or hands off the song list, said ‘yes’.
‘Baba, you want a coffee?’
‘I’ll have a tea, if that’s okay?’
‘Sure’. Looking at the waitress I said ‘2 coffee’s and a tea, please’.
Noticing Mom was enthralled with the jukebox and song list, I asked if there was a song she wanted to listen to and I would deposit a coin to play it for her.
Baba then piped up ‘Are there any Elvis songs’?
Mom didn’t answer, just kept flipping the list. I slowly reached over and placed my hand on hers and set it on the table.
Keeping my right hand on hers, I flipped through the song list with my left hand, and noticed there were quite a few Elvis tunes. I read off some of the songs; ‘heartbreak motel, hound dog, don’t be cruel, love me tender, all shook up, jailhouse rock’ and before I could finish Baba exclaimed…
‘Oh, I love them all! How about don’t be cruel?’
I looked at my Mom and she smiled.
‘Don’t be cruel, it is! Now let me find a coin to put in the jukebox. ‘
Out of the blue, Mom looked up at me and began to sing ‘put another nickel in, in the nickelodeon, all I want is having you and MUSIC MUSIC MUSIC.’
© 2014 Paula Bilz. All Rights Reserved