The Walker, Itself

The Walker itself

When I drove up in front of my Grandma’s house, the first thing I saw was her walker, standing on the sidewalk.

It was by itself; the purse usually dangling from the crossbar was with Grandma in the hospital. We’d had a small rain shower while I was gone for a hectic day and a half, because a few fat raindrops still clung to the shiny metal. Each of the walker’s four feet stood in a small puddle, almost as if the walker had cried at being forgotten in all the fuss.

Grandma was resting comfortably, the doctor had said, and the nurses smiled and joked with the tiny woman with gray and white hair.  They’d fluffed her pillows and showed her how to work all the controls on her hospital bed as well as the TV remote.

She’d just overdone her spring house cleaning, the doctor had grumped. Too old for that kind of top-to-bottom nonsense, he’d added, looking at me sternly. “She needs a live-in companion, someone to do the heavy work – and make her sit down once in a while.”

I got out of my car and went to get her walker and take it inside the house. She’d be home tomorrow, and I’d take it to her as she was discharged. The smooth metal was chilly to my fingertips, but the walker itself seemed to weigh almost nothing as I picked it up.

Kind of like my Grandma, I thought. Strong as metal, but lightweight like a small bird when I’d picked her up from the front lawn where she’d fallen. The soft dirt with its new fuzz of green grass had cushioned her fall. No broken bones.

She was surprised. “I think my faithful steed fell with me,” she explained. “Otherwise, why would I be sitting here in the grass and mud?” Then in the next breath, so I wouldn’t think she was complaining: “Did they have that Swiss cheese we both like at the store, dear? And did I give you enough money?”

“Yes to both, Grandma. And I think maybe you just tried to outrun your faithful steed and it stumbled.”

Grandma always called her walker her ‘faithful steed’ or her “Tennessee Walking horse”. In her younger days, she’d won a wall full of ribbons and certificates for showing her horses’ perfect gaits in the show ring.

Smiling at the memory, I carried her walker into the house, leaving it by the front door as I went to get a small towel to dry it.

“She’ll be home tomorrow. And you and I will go get her at the hospital,” I promised, and turned on the lamp she left on each night by her end of the sofa. Grandpa had always chosen the other end, wanting to be a little further from the fireplace. “No need to toast myself, Anna Mae,” he’d always said. “Now, you’re so tiny, you need a bit of extra warmth.” And he’d peer at her over the top of his glasses, with a smile.

All these memories had my imagination working overtime. As I left her neat little house, I glanced back at the walker. It was standing on three legs, resting the fourth like a horse does.

Just a trick of the light.