Tiny dust motes drifted across her vision, carried by gentle breezes from the open window next to her bed. Fascinated by their lazy fall down toward the 100-year old hardwood floor, she gently blew them away, stretched and arose from her soft bed. “What a glorious morning,” she thought to herself as she wandered into the bathroom to wash her face and brush her teeth.
Looking into the mirror, she laughingly wondered who was staring at her in the antique mirror over the pedestal sink. The face reflected was so much older than the young-at-heart girl standing with a toothbrush in her sadly gnarled hand.
So many years had passed in what seemed a single breath. It simply wasn’t possible that today was her 80th birthday. This moment she began her 81st year on this earth. Giggling at the idea, she choked on toothpaste, spat it all over the sink and reminded herself, “You’re just being silly, Helga; age is only a number.”
For the grand accomplishment of staying alive for 80 years, she decided a special breakfast was in order. Pancakes; yes, that’s what she would fix today, pancakes. Pancakes, real bacon and the total decadence of rich, homemade maple syrup, not the nasty stuff from the grocery store. Her syrup came from trees tapped right there on her Vermont property. Yes, it was going to be a very special, indulgent day.
As she readied the old iron skillet on her now antique wood-burning stove, she heard Tom scratching at the kitchen door. Tom was a barn cat who had wandered into her life one day and taken up residence permanently. They had an agreeable arrangement, she and Tom. He kept the vermin away, and in return was fed and allowed to nap on an old child’s iron bedstead she’d covered in a tattered quilt in the corner of the ancient kitchen. Turning away from the stove, she opened the door and let the mangy cat come inside. Tom jumped into his bed, turned several times, kneaded the quilt, causing a strange clicking noise, and finally settled in for a long nap.
The old woman lingered over her breakfast, savoring every bite. Treating herself to a second mug of tea, she knew it was time to get her day started. Just like every other day, a brisk walk down her mile-long drive for the morning paper and back again would get her blood flowing and work off some of those pancakes. She relished the exercise and fresh country air.
Taking the dishes to the sink, she looked over at the old iron bedstead with Tom softly snoring and smiled. She rinsed her plate and mug and placed them in the drainer. She would wash them later.
Lovingly, she bent down over the bed, moved the sleeping cat to one side and gingerly wrapped the quilt around her little sleeping angel. “Time for our stroll, my lovely,” she cooed to the bundle in the quilt. Tom rearranged himself in the bed and returned to his nap.
The old lady strolled through the house, out the front door and down the lane softly singing and cradling her bundled quilt; bits of bone and hair, the remains of her only child born 60 years ago and still the love of her life.
Yes, it was an absolutely glorious morning.