He stopped, mainly to check on her. The banana bread was purely a secondary reason, but it easily could have been the primary reason.
Sandwiched between his concern for her frailty and the fact that winter was here was still the fact that she used pecans in the warm loaves of bread. She always had cream cheese. Butter was fine, but the cream cheese? It was like icing on the cake-or at least cream cheese on the banana bread.
He knew her age, but he never confronted her when she lied about it. If the Department of Motor Vehicle data base was correct, there were ten years separating her from her fibs. She was 91, but she could have passed for 75. Since her husband had passed in 2014, she had been his personal project. Not every week, but at least every few weeks, he would stop by and drop off treats for the cat, or some bananas. Two days later, he would reap the benefits of discount fruit from South America.
If the snow was falling, he would pull in and scrape off her porch and the steps, throw down a little sand for traction, and then finish out his tour with a coffee and maybe a newspaper. He still read the newspaper, or at least the classifieds. He really wanted a motorhome.
He had spoken to her daughter in Memphis a few times. She called him to say thank you for taking the time to check on her mom. She also told him the time was coming for her to move to Memphis. Mother would hear nothing of it, she was fine. She had grown up in much tougher conditions than were present in the side-hall cape on the even side the tree lined street where she raised two children.
He heard a muffled groan from inside the doorway. It was still dark, but he knew exactly what had happened. The hallway led to the living room, just off the right. He tried the knob and she had done what he had told her to do so many times when he found it open. She had finally locked it. He shined his flashlight into the foyer and he saw what he knew he would see sooner or later.
The key was where they had agreed it to be, not under the mat. The nail under porch was easy to reach. The key, spray painted black to keep it from being easily seen, hung exactly where he had placed it two years ago.
The cold brass was a welcome feeling as he turned the old lock and the swung open the door. He had already radioed for the paramedics. He hated sirens, they were too loud and he had his fill of them. Tonight, they were melodious. The winter air allowed the noise to travel the 2 miles to Central. They would be here soon.
He turned on the light and knew from her position that something was broken. Her hands were cold but her pulse was strong. He grabbed blanket and pillow from the couch that she never sat on and wrapped her up.
On the way to the hospital the medics told him that it was a pretty good chance that she was going to need a hip. She opened her eyes a little and motioned for him to come closer to her oxygen mask. He leaned over quickly, never letting go of her hand.
Her voice was weak but clear. “If I had known you were coming, I would have baked you something.” He laughed, she just smirked.
After getting her settled, he had one of the guys pick him up to drop him back at her house to pick up his cruiser.
He fed and watered the cat, turned the heat back to 60 and made sure that the house was secure. The bananas on the counter were just over-ripe enough for banana bread. He was pretty sure that he wouldn’t taste it again unless got a good deal on a flight to Tennessee.
And so it goes in the life of a cop.
Keep your hands to yourself, leave other people’s things alone, and be kind to one another.
Check on your neighbors and loved ones a little bit more this year. We are all getting older.
TC (cottonblend at blauer.com)