I didn’t know her very well. Actually, I didn’t know her at all…this tiny wisp of a woman named Jane.
I used to see her walk by my house. She never looked my way and she never spoke but I could hear her mumbling to herself.
Rain or shine, freezing cold or blistering hot, she walked. Sometimes I would see her husband Ed, walking with her. Slow and steady, always with his arms behind his back as if trying not to seem aggressive. He patiently walked with her, knowing that she no longer knew who he was.
Several months later, I noticed that she seemed to be more and more confused. She would have on pajamas, with no coat and wearing mismatched shoes, carrying the mates in her arms.
A few times, I coaxed her onto my side porch. She showed me the things she was holding like they were her most valuable collections. Paper plates, sweaters, shirts and cards. She said she was on the way to give them to somebody but she wasn’t sure they would want them.
Eventually, I would text Ed and tell him that Jane was “loose.” He would come tearing around the corner, looking for her. She got lost several times and the police escorted her home.
I would find her wandering around in my yard and young son would take her hand and lead her home. Sometimes I would walk with her and try to get her to come to my house so I could call Ed.
She had an unassuming elegance about her and even though who she used to be was lost, her eyes danced when accompanied by a rare smile…this woman named Jane. The ravages of time and disease had taken their toll but you could tell that at one time she was a great beauty.
Last week, Ed had to put her in a home. He cried on my shoulder when he told me the last thing she said to him before he left.
“Please. Can you tell me my name?”