In the last year of my Granddad's life, we moved him and Grandma into a nursing home in Potomac. It was a dreary place; the color scheme involved an odd rotten-egg yellow and varying shades of putrid green. It had the distinctive smell of the eldery; a boiled concoction of urine, mothballs, and death. One day, after we'd finally finished cramming boxes and boxes full of American impressionist paintings, family heirlooms & thrift store clothing all into two small rooms, I went to visit my grandparents in their new home.
Carrying a box of books to their room, I held open a door for an old woman in a wheelchair. She was wearing a yellow and pink flowered sundress. Concealer was carefully spread on leathery skin, blush smudged on cheek apples, and too much blue sparkle dusted on sunken eyes. Diamonds and gold sparkled on her neck and wrists. She looked out of place among the flannel, stained t-shirts, and hand-stitched teddy bears.
I was polite to her, saying hello and lying a little when I made a comment about how wonderful she looked. "What's the special occasion?" I asked.
"Sweetheart," she said, "I am going to let you in on a little secret. I'm old and lonely; there are no special occasions for me anymore," She smiled sadly, "I can't control my life, but I can control how I look. When I feel my worst, I look my best."