An elderly woman faces a life change with memories of her life partner to see her through
| Meredith sat in her wheelchair int the living room of the house that she and Rose, her life partner of almost thirty years shared since 2011. Buying the house together was only one of two long held dreams they had. The other was a simple civil marriage ceremony, with their families as witnesses. That was only three years ago, It was almost a year to the day that she was sitting in the bedroom, beside the bed where Rose lay.
At that time she was waiting on a different form of transportation than she was waiting on today. Then it was a hearse to take Rose's body away.
She looked around the empty room picturing all that had been taken and sold, and all that had been packed away to be taken to her new home, an assisted living facility.
"Transportation should be here in a little while, sis," her younger brother Tom informed her before picking up the last of the boxes to be packed into his car. His wife Ann ran a hand across Meredith's shoulder in a reassuring gesture. Their college freshman daughter Margaret stood on the other side getting a handkerchief out of her all-purpose bag she always carried.
Meredith promised herself she would not cry, but the tears were already starting as she took the offered handkerchief.
"It's going to be alright, Aunt Mere," Margaret tried to reassure her that she had agreed to do the right thing in selling the house and moving.
"You know that Rose would want you to be with other people, and get the care you need."
At that moment Tom returned with another man behind him. "This is your driver, " Tom said indicating the man behind him.. "Ready, Meredith?"
"Yes, I am."
With that Ann started wheeling Meredith to the front door where the driver took over and carefully wheeled her down the walkway from the house, then down the public walkway to the van.
"You don't have to be so careful, sir," Meredith began. "Margaret and I used to have wheelchair raises down this walkway when she had to use a wheelchair because of a broken leg."
"I'm sure that my boss would not like it if something were to happen to you because I was not being careful."
Meredith grew silent as they got to the van and the man wheeled her onto the lift. Once the lift was level with the van, From there he wheeled her inside and secured her to the vehicle.
"We'll meet you there," Tom called out as the other two waved, making their way to their car. Then the driver secured the lift in place on the side of the van. As the van pulled out Meredith just lowered her head and let the tears flow.
The ride over to the assisted living facility took about an hour. Meredith spent the first couple of minutes letting the tears fall and then thoughts of Ross and their life together filled her mind with the warmth they shared and she was finally able to calm down. Rose had always considered her to be the more sensitive of the two of them. It was that sensitivity that always seemed to start the fire between them. A fire that affected everything they did separately and together.
The fire started small when they first met. Just a warm, comfortable feeling that surprisingly seemed to make them comfortable together. Then the fire spread to their occupations. Rose was a lawyer in a large law firm. It was she who seemed to always get just about every case that had some sexual component to it, whether it was discrimination or murder. Meredith was the director of the women's wear department in a major department store and under consideration for an even higher position that she was not comfortable with.
Her thoughts were interrupted by the driver who tried to make small talk during the drive, once he saw that Meredith had stopped crying.
In a short time they arrived at the impressive building and were met not only by her brother and his family but by the administrator.
"I'll get your apartment set up for you. sis," Tom said before getting busy loading up a cart with the boxes filled with necessities and treasured possessions.
"Than you, Tom," Meredith replied remembering how he was the first one to accept her lesbianism, and her relationship with Rose. She suspected that it was he who was largely responsible for preparing their parents for the news. His reply to her whenever she brought it up was that she was terrible at trying to hide either her sexual orientation or the affection that she and Rise had for one another. Still, it seemed to take a month or two of silence from their parents for them to accept the news. Then she found herself in a position to help Tom's daughter Margaret come out to the family.
After Tom took off with the cart, Ann wheeled Meredith into the building and the administrator's office in order to sign the necessary papers. and to receive more information about the facility. Margaret set beside her and collected the additional papers.
After Meredith signed the necessary papers Ann wheeled her to the elevator and they went up to the floor on which her apartment was located. Meredith noted that her apartment was not too far from the elevator. then Meredith was wheeled into her apartment.
Though the apartment was much smaller that his sister's house Tom tried to arrange everything as it had been. The main room was not much of a problem for the couch, table, lights, and chairs had already been moved in. The bedroom was in back where she set the pictures on the dresser and some of the clothes and books in the drawers. The kitchenette was at the end of the apartment just beyond the bathroom. The two windows looked out the front of the building.
His sister's appreciation was evident on her face as soon as she entered the apartment and took his hand, momentarily unable to say anything. "I appreciate all that the three of you have done today for me," Meredith was finally able to say.
"Aunt Mere, if it is okay with you, I would like to spend a little more time with you while mom and dad go get you some groceries."
"It most certainly is, dear," Meredith answered.
"Ann and I will be back with groceries to last you a week," Tom said before kissing his sister's forehead. Ann soon did the same and the two of them left.
As soon as Ton and Ann left Meredith wheeled herself to the table knowing that Margaret was going to show her the additional paperwork she received from the administrator. Then Margaret would most likely find a place where Meredith could easily see those sheets that would help her keep up with all that was going on as far as activities and meals were concerned.
"How are you and Tammy?" Meredith asked. Tammy being Margaret's special girlfriend.
"We are still adjusting to living together in the dorm," Margaret smiled. She would have been here, except that she felt that she was not quite ready to interject herself in family matters and the fact that there was a GLBT meeting that she wanted to attend."
After Margaret said all that Meredith noticed that the girl grew quite and her attention wandered to the menu and a thumbtack. She then stood up. walked over to the poster board by the door and tacked it up
"She could just have been saying that so you wouldn't feel too bad," Meredith said.
"Maybe," Margaret said as she returned to the table. "She did say that she would like to visit you Wednesday."
"I would like that very much," Meredith said putting her hand on her niece's hand, after the girl returned to her side.
It was then that the rest if the family arrived with the groceries. Together Tom and Ann put the groceries away and then they gathered around Meredith. "Well, sis we need to get going, and you need to get to dinner."
"Yes," Meredith began with a smile. Thank you for all your help."
"We'll visit you this weekend and see how you are doing," Ann said before she bent down and kissed her sister-in-law on the cheek. Tom was next and finally Margaret before they left.
Meredith stayed in her apartment a couple of minutes in order to let her emotions settle. Then she started feeling that familiar warmth running through her body. The same warmth that she always felt when Rose was near. She knew what she had to do.
She wheeled herself out of her apartment and then to the elevator and took it to the main floor so she could wheel herself into the dining room that was located right across from the elevator. There were already many people in the large room but her focus was on the young women that were waiting on them. They looked tired and, except for a couple, disinterested in their work. Her attention then zeroed in on one of them and took note of the section that the girl worked and made a point of heading for a table in that section.
After five minutes or so the young African American woman made her way over. "Having dinner?" the young woman asked as if the question had been scripted.
"Yes with the soup, and if I may, I would like to say that you look surprisingly fresh and charming for all the work you have done today,"
"Thank you, Miss...."
"It's Mrs. Cameron. You may call me Meredith."
"My name is Desiree. Are you new here?" the slim young woman asked.
"Yes I am. I just arrived about a half hour ago."
"Well, Welcome. I'll be right back with your dinner, Meredith," the girl said with a smile that had not been there before.
"Thank you, Desiree."
The slim African American soon returned with Meredith's dinner. "What can I get you to drink?"
"I will have two ice waters, with a slice of lemon in each."
"Two ice water with lemon coming up."
In a minute or two the girl was back and set the drinks before the woman. "Meredith, you indicated that you were married. Has your husband moved in with you?"
"No, I am here on my own. My wife died last year."
"Wife?" the girl asked looking a little puzzled.
"Yes," Meredith said as she raised her left hand to show the girl her ring. "We made our relationship legal three years ago when the state legalized civil marriages for gay couples. Rose and i already saw ourselves as a couple for almost twenty-five years before that though." Meredith added as she showed the girl the jeweled flame label pin she wore slightly above her heart. "We gave each other one of these in a private ceremony."
"That's beautiful," Desiree commented. "Why the flame, though?"
"The flame represents our love for each other and how it touched every part of our lives from morning to way into the night."
"Oh?" Desiree breathed as she tried to stifle the smile that grew on her face.
By the time Meredith finished dinner most of the other staff had left for the night.She went back to her apartment and an hour later called for a CNA to help her with her shower. Meredith's conversation with the young African American woman was just as relaxed during the shower as it had been with Desiree.
It was in the dining room where Margaret and Tammy found Meredith Wednesday around lunch time. They entered the room dressed in similar clothes and their arms around each other. The both of them were wearing gay rights pins on their shirts which caused some of the other residents to look again.
Meredith was waiting for Desiree or some other waitress when the girls arrived and they kissed each other's cheeks before the girls finally sat down.
"Lunch is on me," was Meredith's first words to the girls.
It was then that Desiree made her way to the table. "Would you like lunch today, Meredith?" she asked with a smile to the woman and the girls.
"Yes I would," Meredith started. "Desiree, this is my niece Margaret and her significant other Tammy. They will be having lunch with me, if it is alright."
Tammy blushed at the sound of Meredith calling her Margaret's 'significant other'. Both Margaret and Meredith reached over and put their hands over the girl's.
"I am sure it is," Desiree quickly answered with a smile at the three of them. "Should I get ice water for everyone?"
"Plenty of it please." Margaret interjected. "I have a feeling we are going to need it."
Desiree then left for the kitchen for only a minute before coming back out and headed for the counter where the liquid refreshments was.
"I am sorry if I embarrassed you, Tammy." Meredith offered. "I am just happy that the two of you are almost a couple."
"You didn't, Meredith," Tammy answered as she held the woman's hand more firmly/ "The words just caught me by surprise."
"You are going to have to get used to it, Love. Aunt Mere is always catching people by surprise."
"It's a curse that comes with possessing the fire," Meredith said as she noticed Desiree approach the table. "And it is Aunt mere from now on, Tammy."
"Curse? Fire?" Desiree questioned as she set two glasses of ice water in front of each of them.
Meredith lifted a hand and placed it on the girl's arm. "I will explain it all to you when you less busy. dear. For now I'll just say that the fire is something that occurs only between two people who are deeply in love with each other. It effects everything they do, and rages out of control at night when they are in bed together."
"Auntie Mere!" Margaret called out as all but Meredith blushed. It was a toss up whether Tammy's or Desiree's face turned a deeper shade of red. Tammy was the one though who tried to hide her face in her hands."Behave yourself!"
"Why? I haven't in thirty years."
Desiree left for the kitchen trying to stifle something between a cough and a laugh. A couple of minutes later a couple of the other waitresses stuck their heads out and looked in Meredith's direction. The woman just waved to them and turned her attention back to her niece and Tammy. She was telling the, Tammy in particular, about how she and Rose met at a restaurant's crowded outdoor setting one afternoon with her table being the only one that had empty chairs. Then they met at the restaurant everyday for lunch for almost a month when Rose asked her on a date. Then a week later Rose failed to show up at the restaurant for lunch. Meredith immediately called her to ask if everything was alright. Rose explained that her apartment was unexpectedly being renovated and was trying to find someplace to live while the work was being done. The conversation ended with Meredith talking Rose into moving in with her permanently.
From there the fire that was growing within each of them began touching every part of their lives when they were apart. The number of discrimination cases Rose had tapered off to only a few. The people involved in these cases choosing to face the financial consequences than work the issue out within the framework that she had set in order to settle the case out of court. A framework that put the burden of proof on the complainer, to show his life style did not adversely affect the company's image rather than the life style of the one the complaint was against.
In the meantime, Meredith chose to change careers rather than accept a promotion that would undoubtedly prove more trouble than it was worth. She had long had her fill of dealing with men who had problems with working under her just because she was a woman, or that she was a lesbian. The promotion to the head of the clothing department would undoubtedly have started all that garbage all over again. It was a couple of days later Meredith heard from the woman than had been given the position after all the men who believed that they would have an issue with a woman and a lesbian as boss were either fired or moved to another department.
When she and Rose were together the fire would tend to grow until it totally consumed them one way or another, when they were in bed. Some nights they just laid cuddled up and letting their imaginations go as to what they either wanted to go with their careers of their life together. Other nights the fire took the hunger and desire they had for one another and raged until the early hours of the next day. Some nights one fed the other. ended
The conversation that Margaret , Tammy and Meredith had did not until lunch time had well ended. Then the three of them went up to Meredith's apartment so that Meredith could show Tammy pictures of her and Rose together as well as their scrapbook filled with a record of all of Rose's cases, and her clothing designs for males and females which were purchased by the department store that she had worked at. Others were purchased by lesser known clothing stores.
Tammy was fascinated by all that she saw especially a shirt that she fell in love with. It was all red, orange, yellow, and blue like a flame of fire on a black background.
"Tammy, go into my bedroom. You will find one in the bottom left drawer."
"It's not Rose's. Besides, it will go well with the one you have." At that Margaret blushed as Tammy gave her a look somewhere between accusatory and questioning.
After Tammy returned wearing the with the shirt, Margaret made the three of them aware that it was well into dinner time, and time of she and Tammy to be getting back to the dorm. The girls wheeled Meredith out of the apartment and back to the elevator and the ride down to the dining room. As they entered the room there were only a few residents still having dinner. Once more, one or two of them looked twice at the girls.
Once at a table Meredith hugged the both of them as they each gave each other a kiss on the cheek. The girls were about to leave when Desiree came to the table.
"Nice shirt," Desire complemented Tammy realizing that the girl did not have the same shirt on as before.
"Thank you. It is a gift from Aunt Mere."
"One of her designs," Margaret announced. Then he two excused themselves.
"You used to design clothes?" Desiree asked with interest as she turned her attention to Meredith.
"Still do," Meredith answered simply.
After dinner Meredith wheeled herself around the first floor of the assisted living facility before going up to her apartment. She had some projects to work on, and some planning to do for the next day when more of the residents and staff for her to meet would be around.