Each afternoon, I call Mom in Florida and ask her questions. Are you staying inside? Were the bananas delivered? Did you wipe down the mailbox?
She says yes to everything I ask, though no is sometimes the accurate reply, I discover the next day.
“Are you staying away from that neighbor…Richard?”
“Yes,” she said on Tuesday. “I spoke to him through the closed door.”
“Are you getting any fresh air?” I asked on Wednesday.
“I took a short walk.”
“Good. Were there people out?”
“Empty. Just me. And Richard.”
Richard goes places, and we determined last week that he could transmit germs and that Mom should stay away from him. When he goes to the places, he offers to bring back items for my mother. Richard is a nice neighbor. My mother likes to have bananas. We determined that when Richard brings back the bananas, my mother would thank him through the louvers in the door and retrieve the sack once he had disappeared down the path. I asked her why she would thank him through the louvers yet go on a walk with him. She said that he was far away.
“Six feet away? Ten feet away?”
My mother is 83 and lives alone. She cannot see her friends, and her family is up north. She is happy that I call her every day. The next afternoon, she answers, giggling.
“You are like Rotocall.”
We laugh, and she tells me that she drove to a store for the bananas and a lovely girl put them in her back seat.