Forty-five minutes you sit behind the steering wheel. Tears run your face. I talk to you through the closed window. You stare straight ahead. No acknowledgement. Not a nod. Nothing. The kids wait. Your grandchildren. Ten and five years old. Thirsty. Sweaty. It’s hot in Boston in July. My daughter cries, my son asks what’s wrong with Grandma, why won’t she get out of the car? Let’s go, I say and we walk the couple of blocks to the Common to see the ducks. Your granddaughter sobs the entire way. I tell her you would want her to have a good time. A lie. This is not a good time and she knows it. Like last Christmas when she and her brother woke up and surprise. You were up and gone on the early flight home.
Our mom finds the ducks who live in the park. Jack, Kack, Lack, Nack, Ouack, Pack and Quack. They walk behind their mother, Mrs. Mallard. We sit on the ducks, my brother and me. A man walks by and tells us to get off. No sitting on the statues, can’t you read? He points to a sign. Park Rules, he reads, but it sounds funny, like he’s got a bad cough, pock pock pock like pock in pocket. Our mom starts laughing and that’s always a bad sign. She’s already mad because my grandma won’t get out of the car. Grandma read us Make Way for Ducklings last night and she was so excited to take us to Boston to see the ducks, even though she told us there is no grandmother duck. She seemed sad. My mom tells the coughing guy to get away from her family or she’ll call a cop. The guy laughs, “Quite an accent you got there, sweethaaart, maybe you can’t read down there in Appalachy, ha ha.” My brother slides off Pack and says we can too read and stop calling our mother hot. I say, “Mom, I think I know why Grandma won’t get out the car.”
You walk back for me. I’m still in the car, but roll down the window just enough for a breeze and a beg. I get out at the first please and together, we walk back to the park. I walk with my granddaughter. She tells me “You were right, Grandma. There isn’t a grandmother duck.” “There isn’t a dad duck either,” my grandson calls over his shoulder. Erased, like the kids’ dad, I think. He walks ahead of us, holding his mother’s hand. He can barely keep up with her. She is walking too fast, ahead of me, away from me. I feel left behind. Left out. Alone. Whenever we visit, I feel invisible like I shouldn’t be around. “Mom, slow down, “ my granddaughter says. She’s a good child, a little emotional, but a real sweetheart. We catch up, our ducks in a row for now.