The Secretary

Shortly before three this morning, I was awakened by my mother talking loudly and rapidly in her sleep. It was impossible to understand what she was saying. Then she started calling my name and asking urgently, �Where are you?�

Her bedside light came on. I got up and opened her door. She was leaning on her elbow, trying to read the clock on the table at the opposite side of the bed. When I told her gently that she was dreaming, she said, �No I�m not. I�m typing.�

My mother � once a legal secretary, a church secretary, and the secretary to the superintendent of our local school district � was typing.

�It�s three in the morning,� I said.

She looked at me as if I were crazy. �No it isn�t.�

When I told her again that she had been dreaming, and that she should lie down and go back to sleep, she gave this priceless answer: �Well, if you don�t mind, I�ll continue with what I was doing.�

She rolled back and let her head rest on the pillow. I closed the door and returned to bed. A few minutes later, after several vocal sighs and some random, aimless speech, she turned off her light.

My mother hasn�t used a typewriter in many years. These days, she would have a hard time putting in a piece of paper. I would be surprised if she were able to type a single sentence. And yet somewhere in that brain of hers, she is still capable of typing seventy words a minute, of taking short hand, of solving problems on the telephone. The only problem she can�t solve is her own.

Sisters dying, old friends falling by the wayside.
Enough dish soap to fill three bathtubs.
Did you have lunch yet? I don�t know.
I ate something. And I know it was good.

June 5, 2007

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