PrisonA Story by Katie Foutz Voss
Story for workshop portfolio #3. For Virginia Foutz, November 28, 1924 - April 19, 2010.
The rest of her belongings were also in boxes, piled on the garage’s cement floor like a cardboard mountain range.
“We’re going to carry this stuff upstairs now, mom,” said Tom, her oldest son.
“Be careful, please!” she answered. Saying ‘thank you’ was beyond her capabilities for the time.
She stood in the windy driveway, staring in at the garage
filled with her life. Only five months ago her husband passed away and already
she had to start a new life. She was moving in with her oldest son and his
family. They had bought the house in February, after twenty years of leasing
The April wind gently swept across her back, as if to push her inside.
“Grandma!” a girl’s voice called. “Grandma, I made lemonade!”
“Do you want some?” Maggie asked.
“Of course, dear,”
“Yeah, it should be lots of fun.” Maggie wasn’t nearly as
Together they went inside to the kitchen, where they sat down to drink their lemonade out of plastic cups. The rest of the house was busy moving things from the garage into the spare room, or the “bonus room” as real estate agents liked to call it. There was the constant sound of thumping on the stairs and of grown men saying, “Agh!” and “Dang it, Rick!” as they turned the sharp corners with large pieces of furniture in their hands.
“So, how’s school?”
“It’s okay. I can’t wait till summer, though.”
“Do you like your new school here?”
Maggie shook her head. “Nope. The kids here are mean. Daddy said I could start at Christian school next year if I want to.”
“Oh, that’s wonderful!”
“Yep. Mrs. Birch is the art teacher there.”
“I want the dresser in front of this window,” she said, pointing to her left. “The bed should be against that wall, facing north, and the desk should be right here by the door.”
“Thanks for the directions, Mom,” Tom laughed.
Rick and Kenny, two of her four sons, laughed as well and
began pulling the desk towards the wall by the door. Tom easily moved the bed
where she had directed, and when it was in place
“You might want to move, Mom,” Tom said.
I in the way?”
“No, but Eliza’s coming to put sheets on your bed.” He touched her shoulder, and she stood up.
But standing in the middle of the room, she said nothing. She watched the action around her, feeling completely and totally useless for the first time in her life.
Everything still felt the same in the morning.
“Oh, dear,” she said aloud with frustration. “How silly of me.” The squares on the walls were sheets, covering up the windows that still lacked curtains. The pile by her bed was a stack of cardboard boxes. She immediately remembered the previous day’s events, and after a deep breath she got out of bed and got dressed.
She was on her way downstairs when Tom’s voice called from behind her.
“Good morning, Mom,” he said with a smile.
“It’s my office,” he said, looking around almost in admiration. He had made the bookshelves himself, and they were full of all the books bought for both of his masters degrees. “You remember when you and Dad bought me this desk?” He knocked on the desk’s surface.
“We bought that?” she asked, running her hand over its worn edge.
“When I got out of the Navy.”
“Oh, of course,” she said with a nod. “It was just so long ago.”
“So did you sleep well in your new room, Mom?” Tom asked.
“As well as can be expect for an old woman!” she laughed.
Tom laughed and took a sip of his coffee. “Well, I have to get back to writing this next lesson, but there’s coffee and breakfast downstairs, if you’re hungry.”
“I was just on my way there,” she said, and continued down the stairs.
In the kitchen, Eliza was sitting at the table drinking coffee and reading the newspaper. Maggie was in the adjoining living room on the floor, eating a bowl of cereal and watching cartoons.
“Shouldn’t you be in school?”
Eliza looked up from the paper. “Oh, well today’s Saturday. That’s why I’m home too!” She gave the woman a cheerful smile.
“That’s right, of course.”
“I don’t go to school on Saturdays, Grandma,” Maggie said.
“I know, honey. I just forgot. Is there any more cereal?”
Maggie jumped up from her spot on the carpet. “I can show you!”
“You’re welcome,” Maggie said with a shrug.
After showing her grandmother the pantry and pointing out
the cupboard with bowls in it, the girl went back to her cartoons, and
She decided that morning, despite her initial confusion, that she was going to feel right at home there with her family so close. Her old life had been wonderful, and she would make the new one just as pleasant.
The end of summer had come with some unpleasant surprises
Sometimes she woke up in the morning thinking that it was
the middle of the afternoon.
Her summer of confusion had consequently led to several doctor’s appointments, and she was presently sitting in the waiting room while Eliza and Tom talked to a specialist behind a closed door.
She could faintly hear the doctor saying, “So, tell me again what most concerns you.”
“Well,” Eliza said. “I ask her to make dinner before we get home. But sometimes she makes it hours before we get home, or she leaves the stove on, or the food isn’t cooked all the way through. Once I asked her to make some pasta, and she made chicken instead. She didn’t remember me saying anything about the pasta.”
“And you said that she’s always been a decent cook.”
“She was great,” Tom said. “But now she’s not safe in the kitchen. Sometimes the food isn’t safe, either.”
The doctor sighed heavily enough for
“Yes, she’s had some issues with
“She’s done that a couple times,” Tom answered. “The
other day she asked me where my older brother lived, because she hadn’t seen
him in a while. My older brother died in
“Well, why don’t we bring her in and we can all talk about this,” the doctor said.
The door swung open, and
Eliza smiled at her, but in a sad way that she couldn’t quite understand.
“Come on in, Mom,” Tom said, his voice expressing the same tone in his wife’s voice.
“Do you remember me,
“I remember,” she said, which was only a half lie. His face was familiar, but she didn’t recognize his name.
She frowned and nodded. “Let’s just get it over with.”
“You have Alzheimer’s disease,
With a heavy sigh,
Back at home,
Down the hall, everyone was in Tom’s office. Tom and
Eliza were explaining to Maggie that her grandmother had Alzheimer’s, and that
things were about to change. The girl seemed to be taking it reasonably well,
with only a few sounds of complaint. Although, like
“You understand?” Tom asked his daughter. “You’re going to have to help us take care of grandma.”
“I get it,” Maggie said, voice raspy from her soft crying.
“She’s not going to be the same grandma anymore. We know you’re sad. We’re all sad. But we’re going to get through this together. We just have to watch out for her.”
Another sigh escaped from her lungs. Her own dear Maggie
was being subjected to taking care of an old woman. At twelve years old the
girl would have to babysit her grandmother. Their relationship was forever
changed, intrinsically altered. Nobody wanted it, but it had happened:
She put her hand up on the window pane. They were all trapped.
© 2010 Katie Foutz Voss
Added on May 9, 2010
Last Updated on May 9, 2010
Katie Foutz Voss
About1. My name is Katie, Kat, Kate, or Katherine. Never Kathy. 2. You will find me with flowers in my hair and paint on my hands. 3. I love: Jesus, my husband, art, coffee, pajamas, chapstick, the color.. more..