teddy bears picnic

Today was a Muzzie day. I drove to Edmond this morning while the sun was still shining. “A single dip hot fudge sundae, please? No nuts, no cherry,” I order at Braums. Just the way she likes them now.
I pull into the small park and trek across the street past the full lot as I don my mask. They beep me in and record my temperature before I’m allowed entry.
Do I know where her room is? I nod.
She is slumped in her bed this morning, half in, half out, her nurse aid mid-process helping her to dress. My timing, as usual, turns out to be impeccable. No, I’ll stay. I add assistance where I can.
Once she’s settled I ask if she’d like her sundae, she nods. Unsure of what to do or how to move. This is part of the weakness of aging. She’s 96.
One of her daughters had come yesterday for the Thanksgiving meal hosted by the home, her nurse tells me. I say I was sorry to miss it, but I’ve come today with ice cream. She smiles and leaves the room.
After the treat, Muzzie dozes in and out, smiling each time she awakens and sees my face, masked though it is.
I reach into her book basket and find the card I’d bought for her in Wyoming. It’s one of those textured numbers that looks 3D as you shift it. This one is a forest of aspens.
Next time she wakes I remind her of a song she used to sing to us, The Teddy Bear’s Picnic. I tell her the card had reminded me and that is why I sent it. She smiles unsure. I start to sing it and a glimmer of recognition beams out. Her small Bitty Bear was in the same basket, I set him before the propped card, for context. I tell her she is always in my heart. Always. And she is.

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