There’s a woman named Vita who hangs out at the Y. She’s a member, 80 years old, and she spends most of her time in the lobby crocheting or falling asleep. She’s in a motorized chair—“I can’t find my cane,” she once told Melissu. “I put it on the back of my chair, and it must have fallen off. I hate this chair. I hate that they put me in this dang chair.” She talks waveringly, quietly, and a lot. When she sits over by the windows, we send someone every once in a while to check that she’s breathing.
Vita has two braids of thin gray hair, and today she showed me some pictures. She makes things for the fair. She showed me pictures of pillowcases, cushion cases, and Afghans. They were all in bright colors with patterns she designed herself. Then she showed me a picture of her two cases of ribbons. They were mostly blue, and she hung them sideways in rows and columns like a formation of airplanes.
“Are the blue ones first place and the red ones second?” I asked.
“The blue ones are the first place ribbons and the red ones are for second place.
“The first time I entered something at the fair I got a first and a second. I entered a cake and an Afghan. Guess which got the second.” She said.
“The Afghan,” I said.
“The cake! They said that it needed more spice. If it had more spice it would have gotten first. I don’t like the spice so I didn’t put as much in.
“Guess what fruit was in the cake. It was a fruitcake with only one type of fruit. Guess which fruit was in the cake.” She said.
“Apples,” I said.
I was leaning over the counter so I could hear her. She bent forward in her chair. Her face turned bright and mischievous.
“Raisins,” she said. “They call raisins a fruit.”