I talk to my Mom a few times a month on the phone. We live about two hours away from each other but it may as well be a thousand miles. She endures alone in her old age on pure will and a unique ability to conserve energy. Fox News Entertainment blares on a giant television night and day. She sleeps a mere six feet away from the screen in the glow of catheter ads and political vomit. Her eyes and her ears are on borrowed time, having stored away the memories of a lifetime into the smooth purple chambers in the cave of her heart. I have lived with the knowledge that she will die soon for a very long time. This anticipation is numbing, especially for someone afraid to cry. She once called me in the middle of the night just to warn me, after a meal of beets, that my urine would be red. Don’t be afraid. It’s normal. It’s just the beets. Who cares enough to anticipate my fears? But she’s not gone yet. I want to give love to the child who is afraid to be abandoned and to the mother afraid to die alone. They both live in our hearts as one. I told her I am coming to visit on Saturday. She sobbed into the phone with joy and thanked me. I cried with her, not from guilt but from the gift of being loved. There’s no one who feels that way about my presence as to be moved to tears by the mere anticipation of it. I know I feel that way about my own children. Maybe that’s why I feel so scared to face Mom now in her old age and raw loneliness. Dying is messy, so is living. I feel too alone in the world to know anything more, and yet, the beets.
By Evalyn Baron
On October 23, 2022
By Paul DeLong
On October 28, 2022
[political vomit.] Precise, visceral, and yet with emphatic shock effect that tells us how little import we should render such things. Spot on.
[…having stored away the memories of a lifetime into the smooth purple chambers in the cave of her heart. ] Artful, evocative, appropriately dreamy.
[I have lived with the knowledge that she will die soon for a very long time.] We feel the ache of this irony strongly from this sentence.
[I cried with her, not from guilt but from the gift of being loved.] Strong and deep. We feel the narrator’s intelligent poignancy in recognizing that this is a sometimes rare gift that needs appreciation to manifest all the gifts it has to give.
[Dying is messy, so is living. I feel too alone in the world to know anything more, and yet, the beets.] There is a lot here with crafted understatement. The reader is left wanting to hear a lot more. Thanks!