essay by Heather Shayne Blakeslee
“When I see my friend Karen’s number ringing through on my phone, I frown a little. She is in her seventies and has not been well. Each time I’d seen her in the past year, she seemed as though she was moving more slowly, remembering less, repeating herself more. She has a doting husband, but I’d begun to check in on her every six months or so. I was not expecting good news, and I knew I should pick up.
A little too slowly, and a little too loudly—I wanted her to hear and understand me—I said, “Hello, Karen. How are you?” It came out sounding a bit too much like I was talking to a child. I waited to hear a tiny voice and bad news.
“Heather! Honey!” she practically yelled into the phone. “I just had to call and tell you!”
She sounds lighter, happier, and more clear than I was expecting. She informs me that she is walking up the interior steps of her home. I know from my visits that it’s a cozy condo in Society Hill, decorated with art and architecture books, artier textiles, designer furniture, paintings, and conch shells that remind her of her childhood in St. Lucia. Holy mementos from every seven decades of her life. It was a happy place for her, until no place was a happy place.
“I’m walking up the steps!” she says cheerily, “and I’m not taking granny steps,” she continues. “I’m taking them one at a time.”
I take it to mean that she’s not ascending the stairs of her small and well-appointed condo in the rickety manner in which many an auntie of 70 might do. What she really means, though, is something very different: What she really means is that she is not in terrible pain.
Karen is not in terrible pain for the first time in nearly two decades.
“You were the second person I called,” she tells me, breathlessly.
Karen just got her medical marijuana card. And it may have saved her life.”
For full text and images, consider reading RQ in print, on a Sunday afternoon, sun streaming through your window, coffee in hand, and nary a phone alert within sight or in earshot… just fine words, fine design, and the opportunity to make a stitch in time //. Subscribe today. // Print is dead. Long live print. //