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  • The dishes needed washing, the clothes needed taking out, the line needed to be put back in place.
    One careless word from him was all it took.
    I saw her buckle for a split second,
    hot tears, and a pace around the kitchen so she could breathe
    You can't touch her when she gets like this, she can't take a hug.
    She needs to take care of herself like there's no one around, right in the middle of all of us.
    She explained to me as clearly as possible what it was she felt, saying it out in neat, clean words, no tears in the way.
    You can't volunteer help.
    She needs to reinstate that she can go on doing things on her own, like she always has.
    It needs to show in something she's doing right then, right there.
    She needs to just be able to continue.
    No immediate need for anyone to understand.
    I saw myself in her pacing.
    I did what I would love have done to me at these times.
    I sat at the kitchen counter, picked a carrot from the salad to munch, watched her pace once in awhile, till it slowed down and she stood by my side to work the counter.
    All I had to do was stay around.

    My grandmother stopped me on the way out to the table.
    She thrust her watch into my hand as I passed her by.
    She has this way of grabbing at people, since she can't move around as fast as she used to, I slowed down to sit by her side.
    'Can you fix the time on my watch, please?', she said.
    I wound it and peered closer at the needles.
    'I'm not sure it works, grandma.', I said.
    'Oh, it works, it works,' she said, taking it back from me, smiling to herself.
    This time I didn't know what to do.
    So I just stayed awhile.
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