Write On!

One More Song

In Uncategorized on January 12, 2012 at 7:52 pm

by Jen Gregory

His soft leather shoes padded quietly down the beige hallway. His suit was expensive. His patience was thin. Two more turns past sterile watercolors with nothing brighter than blue to decorate them and he was in Wing J. It was the classiest nursing home a guy could find. Beautifully sterile, quiet with all of the luxuries the elderly need. Gerald Sinclair spared no expense for his mother but as he advanced down the long hall, heard the music, smelled the perfume, he sighed. He grabbed a hankie from his pocket to cover his sneezing and rapped abruptly on the door.

“Mother. It’s me.” Gerald said a tad too sharp, his voice bouncing back from the heavy lacquered door.

“Gerald? Is that you?” Trudy Sinclair sang out as the show tunes lowered to a whisper.

“Nope, your other son, mom.” He said resting his weary shoulder on the frame of the doorway.

Trudy Sinclair shuffled to the door and gently pulled it open. She was elegant and striking as always. At 80 years old her hair was perfectly blonde and coiffed not like an old woman but rather chin length with shaggy bangs. Her turquoise eyes were large and magnetic, her skin soft and rippled like lake water after a single drop of rain. She was fine and delicate but the red lipstick told her story better. It was bright, harsh and perfectly applied. She held both of her arms out to her son for an embrace,

“I wasn’t expecting you, what a wonderful surprise!”

Gerald glanced around the small room and smiled at his mother. Trudy made you smile like that. She could aggravate you, exasperate you, humiliate you, but she was fun. She was affectionate and happy to see everyone. She was everything Gerald wasn’t, which his wife was all too happy to point out lately. Gretchen claimed he worked too much, worried too much and needed to have more fun. She told Gerald it was time, the kids were out of the house and she needed more. She had bought them tickets for a European cruise. Gerald loathed cruises, not that he had ever taken one, but he was certain he wouldn’t enjoy it. He watched as Trudy went to her kitchenette and began to boil some water. All the elements of a noon tea set out and ready.

“I wish I had realized you were coming, I would have been more prepared Gerry.” She said as her pale pink fingernails tapped the tea leaves into the little metallic ball. Gerald sat back and played the game. Same tune every week. She didn’t know he was coming, she was happy to see him and last but not least could he please, please take her to New York. Always one more show, one more song.

Gerald remembered being a child and watching his mother on the stage. He could vividly recall thinking she was two people. There was the Trudy that laughed outside in the leaves and checked their homework and then this diva woman on stage, lungs swelling out of her chest, her crystal clear and perfect voice bouncing all around the theatre. Bright red lips posed in perfect little o’s as she belted out one show tune to the next with the orchestra settling in behind.

He could still hear the applause, see her smile and bow. After a show night they always made cookies the next morning. Trudy would be in her robe, singing and swaying, flour covering the countertops. Gerald wanted her to stop, to talk to him but Trudy was made to be watched and listened to. He learned that early, how to appreciate and applaud his mother in exchange for her love. Every sticky red kiss she left on his cheek a small trophy for his praise and always the lingering perfume. She smelled like a wild flower field, blooming and green. Pungent. Gerald had always been allergic to flowers and especially to his mother’s perfume. Her solution was to keep him stocked up on allergy medicine and tissues.

His father had worshiped her. Gerald had adored her and now here they were. He was her caretaker. He did just what his father would have done and gave her every whim but he could not get the doctor to clear her medically for a trip to New York just yet. Her last heart attack had also been a minor stroke and her blood pressure was never stable, not that Trudy noticed. The first week she had been a resident at Sweetwater Homes the director had called him and asked, “How does she have all of this energy. She’s running circles around our orderlies. They keep going in her room to clean but she’s already done it!”

Trudy Sinclair was the master at charm. In one week’s time she had the whole place eating out of the palm of her hand. She was heading up this little club and that one and by every appearance Gerald had made a good decision and he had, she just needed to go to New York, she needed to see Broadway one last time.

Trudy looked at Gerald, his tall slender build, fine thin face, dark black hair. He was a striking man but so sad. She never understood his sadness but she knew he was born to it, just a plain old melancholy soul. His wife Gretchen had been a breath of fresh air. She was a fitness instructor, lively and determined, graceful and winsome. She became the daughter Trudy never had. Their son, Conner, he was her jewel though.

“Mother, Conner will be by this evening to take you to dinner. I’m treating, so choose where you would like to go. It’s all been cleared at the front desk.” Gerald said as he placed his emptied cup in the sink. He straightened his tie and jacket as he smiled at her.

“Trudy Sinclair, you are a vision and I love you.” It was what he always said; it was what his dad had said to her every time they parted. Her eyes lit up and her bright red smile seemingly grew wider than her face. The turquoise of her eyes swam in a crystal bath of floating tears.

She reached for him, placed her hands around his and kissed his cheek firmly. He could feel the lipstick clinging there. “Gerry, he would be so proud of you. I am a lucky mother.”

“Thank you. I know I don’t take care of you like he did, but I do adore you.”

“Are you kidding, there isn’t anything you wouldn’t do except risk my health. I can’t really complain about that, can I?” Trudy laughed in her crisp alto voice.

“Maybe the doctor will give us the okay next week.” He said squeezing her hands and turning to head out the door.

“Maybe is not my favorite word young man. I’ll have to charm him past a maybe I think. I’ve eaten everything he’s told me to eat and taken all the medicine he’s told me to take. I’m going to Broadway if it kills me.” She said with a with a dramatic sigh.

Gerald turned to wave good bye and took a deep breath as he walked into the hallway. He’d need the rest of the afternoon to gather up the energy she invariably fed on while they were together.

Trudy locked the door behind him and went to her window seat, such as it was. She glanced outside then went to her computer but not before turning her music back up and letting it flood her body with its energy. She would give anything to feel the vibration of Broadway, the lights dimpling the dark, the voices ringing out, vibrating, and coursing through her veins. Broadway would fix her heart. Les Miserables, Hair Spray, it could even be the Lion King, she didn’t care so long as they sang, so long as she could hear and see and feel the song! She tapped away at the keys and lost herself in thought. She stopped at four o’clock and began preparing. Conner would be there at 5:30 and she knew just where she wanted to go.

Conner Sinclair swaggered into the lobby of the retirement complex. He loved seeing his grandmother Trudy. He rounded the turn and walked the hallway to her door. Once at it, he tidied his hair and his shirt before he knocked on the door. He could hear her singing Don’t Rain on My Parade, could already smell her perfume. Her voice belied her age, she was belting out the song as if she were forty, not eighty. Conner loved to play the piano for her, to sit and just let her strut. Not many boys had grandmothers that could sing like Trudy. He tapped lightly on the door and she sang out, “Who is it that I hear?”

He tilted his chin down a little embarrassed as he sang back to her, floppy blonde hair hanging in his face, “It’s me, your Conner dear.”

She swung open the door and ran to him. They hugged and she pinched both his cheeks. They talked about Julliard, top 40 hits and what he was going to do in two more years. He asked her where she wanted to eat. Trudy selected Sal’s which was the nicest old restaurant in town. Good thing his dad was springing for it. Conner extended his elbow, Trudy placed her hand in it and they walked down the hallway, past the front gate and were on their way. Trudy sat in the little silver Prius and discussed the differences between it and the old fashioned cars like Trudy had driven.

“It’s not that different Trudy, look, you just put the little faub here, punch the button and go.” Conner said, amused at her curiosity.

They arrived at the restaurant and Conner gave the keys to the valet before he got out and helped his grandmother to the door. After appetizers Conner excused himself and Trudy took the chance to wave the maître d over to her. She whispered to him and he took off briskly. Conner came back to the table and Trudy smiled at him.

“You know Conner, you are a brilliant boy. More talented than your grandmother for sure.” She said with a firm nod of her head. Conner was always captivated by the large blue and green eyes. It didn’t matter that she was eighty, her eyes screamed, “Let me be sixteen forever!”

He was mesmerized by Trudy. He wanted to be like her, youthful and talented, fun and exciting.

“Grandmother, without your guidance in my life I’d be a banker like dad. Thank you for teaching me to love music.”

“Thank you for letting me teach you young man.” Trudy said, patting her lips together and grabbing her pocket book.

“Here let me help you.” Conner said too attentively. Trudy swatted gently at him with her bag and said, “Get back, it’s my heart that has me in a pickle, not my legs. They still work just fine.”

She sauntered towards the restrooms with her swaying hips and Conner just sat laughing to himself. He hoped he was as big of a mess as she was when he was eighty.

Approximately twenty minutes later as Conner grew concerned the maître d came up to him and said, “Excuse me sir, she left a note.”

Conner’s heart was racing. What was going on and where was Trudy? He looked down at the note which read:

Dearest Conner, I didn’t want to get you into any trouble, otherwise I’d have invited you with me. I have borrowed your car. I need one more song. I need one more show. Your father and the doctor will not cooperate. I knew you would understand best. Please forgive me for eluding you, but it had to be done. You have to tell your father but please be slow about your timing. I will call when I’ve arrived in New York. Your dear old grandmother, Trudy

Conner sighed and placed both hands in his head of hair. The questions about the car, the extra-large handbag stuffed to the brim. She had tricked him. The stubble on his chin glimmered in the soft glow of candlelight, dancing as his jaw turned from frown to grin. His father was going to have a total fit. He was slightly concerned for Trudy but knew she would most likely be just fine. Only a three hour drive, she had plenty of money and if he had to guess she would check into a hotel under a pseudonym and hum herself to sleep. He would call his dad in a moment but first he ordered dinner. He supposed he would need a ride after all.

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  1. I love your foresight into my (and your) future 25 years from now.

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