“She dribbles cranberry sauce on her dress, and she talks with her mouth full. I hate that.”
Her mother didn’t say anything.
“And she forgets my name. I hate that, too.”
Her mother didn’t say anything. She put mashed potatoes into a yellow bowl. Anastasia started to cry. A salt-flavored tear came down the side of her face and into the corner of her mouth; she tasted it with the tip of her tongue, and waited for the next one.
“I don’t hate grandmother,” she said in a voice that had to find its way out lopsided, around the tears. “But I hate that she’s so old.
“It makes my heart hurt.”
Her mother took a paper napkin from the kitchen table, knelt on the floor beside Anastasia, daubed at her wet cheeks with the napkin, and put her arms around her.
“All of our hearts hurt,” she said. They went together to wake up Anastasia’s father, and the three of them helped the grandmother to the table, where they sat her in the best chair, the one with the arms. They all smiled when the old woman recognized her favorite plate, touched the blue flowers fondly, and said, “Forget-me-nots.”