Updated: May 23, 2020
Preserve me from the occupational therapist, God. She means well, but I’m too busy to make baskets. I want to relive a day in July when Sam and I went berrying. I was eighteen; my hair was long and thick and I braided it and wound it round my head so it wouldn’t get caught on the briars. But when we sat in the shade to rest I unpinned it and it came tumbling down And Sam proposed. I suppose it wasn’t fair to use my hair to make him fall in love with me, but it turned out to be a good marriage.
Oh, here she comes, the therapist, with scissors and paste. Would I like to try decoupage? “No,” I say, “I haven’t got time.” “Nonsense,” she says, “you’re going to live a long, long time.”
That’s not what I mean; I mean that all my life I’ve been doing things for people, with people. I have to catch up on my thinking and feeling. About Sam’s death, for one thing. Close to the end, I asked if there was anything I could do…. He said, “Yes, unpin your hair.” I said, “Oh, Sam, it’s so thin now and gray.” “Please,” he said, “unpin it anyway.” I did and he reached out his hand – the skin transparent, I could see the blue veins – and stroked my hair. If I close my eyes, I can feel it…. Oh Sam! “Please open your eyes,” the therapist says. “You don’t want to sleep the day away.” She wants to know what I used to do: knit? crochet? Yes, I did those things, and cooked and cleaned and raised five children, and had things happen to me. Beautiful things, terrible things. I need to think about them, arrange them on the shelves of my mind.
The therapist is showing me glittery beads. She asks if I might like to make jewelry. She’s a dear child and means well. So I tell her I might. Some other day.