The priest at grandma’s funeral didn’t know her before Alzheimer’s
confined her to a nursing home, or that she never fit the indulgent image he
generically presented. She’d been
strict, and combined with irrational worries; she hovered with diligence.
As the disease consumed her, her fears flourished. There were constant warnings about weather. Conversations repeated themselves with growing
frequency. She called because it was
dark and may storm. When reminded it was
supposed to be dark at ten o’clock at night, she would continue her confused
argument that it was darker than usual, and the stars must be higher up.
Now the seven-story factory building in the garment district
houses expensive, trendy apartments. In the sixties, workers there made
lining for Stetson cowboy hats, and I was an accounting assistant in charge
of payroll. I worked in the air-conditioned administrative offices with
most of the other white employees. Office staff also had the privilege of
a private bathroom that was kept securely locked. There was one black
woman employed in the office, but she was not given a key to our administrative
restroom. Instead she had to use the bathroom with the rest of the
minorities working the factory floor.