My mother started getting better just when we became accustomed to her decline. Her feet healed, she hobbled into my car and we drove to the store to buy new sneakers, her first shoes since the accident, little by little she roused from fog and remembered with clarity how to complain and where the bathroom is located. The more alert and agile she grew, the angrier she became at my father, so much she says for six decades of devotion and love, so much for sickness and health, so much for a lifetime together and growing old with grace.
One day some years later my father called, we talk every day but that day his voice was querulous and shaky, he asked nervously, do you think its safe to eat meat that’s been in the refrigerator for three weeks, Daddy I yelled, don’t touch it, and then he said I don’t think I can do this anymore. Three hours later we are on a plane to Florida and we drove his car and his fax machine and typewriter north and even the cowhide pillow, and ordered stationary with his new address and sent letters to his clients, and my mother and my father and I lived in Vermont and went out for Chinese food once a week, just like we did when I was a little girl.
They died, finally, her first and him three months later. I hope that there is a heaven, that my mother is again young and beautiful, a head turner, green eyed and high cheekboned, and my father still adores her and wakes up every morning surprised and pleased that she loves him back, and in this heaven he does not abandon her, she is not bitter and he is not guilty, in this heaven he writes love poetry and calls her darling.
Death comes cavalier and insouciant with kingly appetite nobody can avoid, we are little fishes to be swallowed, we think we are too big but that is only an illusion. Beauty and love is all extinguished, too soon, too bad, so smile and make the best of a sorry situation.