When I talk to other people, I say things like "it's such a blessing for the children," and "it's so much better for her to be with family." Which is not completely a lie.
The kids know that their great-grandmother sometimes thinks they're her sisters. It doesn't phase them. In fact, they've begun referring to themselves as Charlotte and Penelope. She has no idea who I am and usually thinks I'm the housekeeper. She says things about my housekeeping under her breath when I'm in the room. Ninety year old women have no volume control, so "under her breath" is arguable.
It would make me crazy if it weren't for my best friend, who lives across the country taking care of her eighty year old father-in-law. We compare notes. I am a little luckier because when Louella throws things at me, they don't go very far. Charles is an all-star baseball player in comparison.
She's luckier than me because the things Charles throws are all physical and can be dodged.
We call each other when things get bad. She called today.
"He's gone," she says. I know by her voice that it's not the usual call signaling a neighborhood search and a trip to the parking lot where his favorite bowling alley used to be.
"I went to wake him for breakfast. It happened in his sleep. I'm just waiting for someone to come and... you know."
I think of her sitting in an empty house, waiting for the body to be removed. She'll have arrangements to make. I figure I should fly out and be with her at the funeral.
"I'm sorry," I say, but she knows that's not what I mean. I only say it because jealousy is a sin.