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She placed her cold, thinned-out hand on top of mine and squeezed. She looked good, healthy. The nursing home’s institutionalized and gravied dinners packed a thin layer of padding around her waist, but somehow, her hands remained bony.

“How is everything?”

She gripped her purse. Both hands wrapped firmly around the handle, her knuckles bulging and white.

“Everything is fine Gram, just wanted to come and see you.” I smiled too wide. I could feel the eleven wrinkles between my brows furrow deeper. I was not a good liar.

Had I offered to come? Or was I asked?

“I don’t know where Grandpa is. He must be walking around here somewhere.” She looked left, right, then left again as if crossing the street, being extra cautious. She was aware of her deficit; the mild Alzheimer’s had taken away just enough.

Ninety-eight years of niceties and ingrained speech patterns made her conversations appropriate. She was wise to keep it simple.

“How are the kids?”

The words were pleasant and benign.

“What sports are they playing now?”

I answered with exaggerated animation, looking everywhere but at her.

“Do you remember when Grandpa would watch you play softball?” she asked.

She was off-topic. My pulse quickened.

Did she know?

“Of course.” My smile widened like a fool’s. The telltale sign of a liar was what again – looking left – looking right I made eye contact and held her gaze in mine. She was still there. Distant recognition of older memories bubbled to the surface while recent recall remained behind a cataract film.

“He loved watching you play.” She smiled and patted my hand again only to return it to the security of her purse strap.

“I wonder where he is, must be wandering around here somewhere.” She looked left, right then left again.

“He always stood at the third baseline and gave me signals,” I said, forgetting for a moment why I had come, enjoying the stray thoughts. “Run home; he would yell,” I circled my arm, coaching the memories forward. “He always thought I was better than I was.”

Gram took both her hands and grabbed mine, “He thought you were fantastic, ” she said before clutching her purse tight to her chest.

“Is everything OK? How are the kids?” she asked. We had started over.

I could feel the wrinkles bury into my brow.

“Everything is fine, Gram.”

“Do you know where Grandpa is?”

Had I offered to come? Or was I asked?

I looked at the text message. Go sit with Grandma. They brought Grandpa to the hospital. It doesn’t look good.

She doesn’t know, and don’t tell her; I will.

“No, Gram. I don’t know where he is.” I smiled too wide. I looked left, then right, then down at my phone, which buzzed with an incoming text.

He’s gone.

“He’s probably coaching someone right now,” she said and laughed. “Always giving pointers, always waving you through. He would give anything to run those bases again.”

“Yes,” I blinked hard. “He loved rounding third, heading for home.”

Acts Of Kindness: Sometimes You Just Need to Lie was last modified: by

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