Carmen was old. God she was old. I recently noticed the way her skin had softened and thinned around her body and her joints cracked when she rose after sitting for too long. Her hair was thin also. Sometimes I would find clumps of it on her bed or the bathroom floor. Mostly white hair but occasionally there would be a few red strands; they were the only glimpse I had into what I heard was her vibrant and spirited youth. She came to live with us only two years ago. We all knew what was coming. On the day she moved in my mother said, “Anna, Carmen is very old and sick. I have known her family for many years and they don’t have the money to watch over and take care of her right now. She doesn’t have much time, and she deserves to be comfortable. I know it seems weird, but just try your best not to let her bother you.”
Sure enough, it was only two years. I was actually surprised by how long she held out; in her state I would have thrown in the towel long ago. She never bothered me. She would always come sit with me while I read in the study or did homework at the kitchen table. She was a true lady. On the morning of her death we were all by her side, even my brothers, who could barely stand the discomfort. My mother put a hand on her soft head and cried for a few minutes before she let my dad take her. Gently he lifted her, bed and all, off the laundry-room floor and took her out to the backyard where we buried her.