"Hannah, honey, hand me my lap robe would you, and roll me out to the veranda?"
My name is not Hannah, and there is no veranda where Mrs. Jackson lives, now. But I oblige her with a bath towel across her knees and turn her wheelchair to face out her second story window. While her back is turned to the room, I make her bed, tidy her belongings and disinfect the surfaces she touched overnight after episodes of incontinence.
"The lilacs must be blooming, Hannah. I can smell them!" she exclaims. I do not tell her it's the floral-scented Lysol spray or that lilacs don't grow in the deep South.
"What shall we do this morning, Hannah?" she asks me brightly. I can see that her mind is wandering over myriad possibilities, over whole continents where she used to go, for real.
"Whatever you like, Mrs. Jackson," I say. "Would you like to visit the neighbors?"
"Yes, I would, and especially that nice Mr. Evellyn."
I do not say that there is no Mr. Evellyn -- which she pronounces EEv-Lin -- on her floor or anywhere else in this facility.
There is more I do not say, more everyday: that a son who never comes has died. That a friend who used to call has died, as well.
Finally all the many things I cannot say fill up my throat, and I feel I might choke on Mrs. Jackson's absent life.