To all intents and purposes she was the epitome of a genteel lady, good breeding and cultured. There she sat in the fading light of a late winter’s eve. Her cane at her side and her book placed gently on her lap she looked up at the others in the room from time to time as they wandered through on their way to god knows where.
Mrs. Cunningham patted her white hair and pushed a fallen strand back into place and smoothed out her flowered skirt, fussing a bit at a spot on the seam. Probably left over from lunchtime. She pulled her hand crocheted shawl around her shoulders shivering a bit so close to the windows.
Opening her little white pocket book that lay on the table before her, she withdrew a tube of hand lotion. Jergen’s almond scent. Never used any other. With care she opened it and squeezed out a tiny amount which she massaged diligently into the age spots on her long piano playing fingers.
All that was missing from this tableau was her glass of red wine. When her husband had been alive this had been their ritual. One glass before dinner, never more. Just enough in polite society. She never asked for it anymore. Maybe she was resigned to her newer rituals minus her husband and her wine faded into the past.
The clock on the wall signaled five o’clock. The lights came on and the music began to play softly out of the speaker above her. She sighed, stood up and started to the exit. Her steps were unsure and she seemed to use her cane more than normal. She paused, straightened her posture, gathered her resolve and continued across the room.
Mabel, her nurse for the evening, came up from behind her and took her arm to steady her. “Umm… Mrs. Cunningham, did you dress yourself today,” she asked quietly.
“Oh yes,” Mrs. Cunningham replied happily.
Mabel bent down and gently lifted her skirt to reveal pantyhose rolled down her legs to just above her knees, like the stockings of Mrs. Cunningham’s day, virtually hog-tying the poor woman.
“Come with me my dear and we’ll fix you up in no time at all. And then you’ll be ready for dinner. It’s pot roast tonight and apple crisp your favouites.”