If you wonder, no, this is not a fictionalized account. It is wholly (and holy) what actually happened, as good as my memory can make it.—October 1st, 2012
October the first is an anniversary that brings on a familiar feeling that I can only describe as “ending-times”. The season certainly defines some of it, that smell of dying and drying plants, that crispness finally entering the air, the way the clouds look scudding across the sky, how the words “azure sky” become sacred in the purity of their manifestation. But these are just a backdrop, the props on the stage, to my mother’s illness and death; and learning about the modern fashion sense and business etiquette of the angel of death.
I must give you the prologue about the time before the call. My father, Clifford, had broken his hip just a few weeks earlier. I got a call about him at work and learned that my mother Joan (pronounced joe-ANN, thank you) and dad had closed up the fishing season and brought lots of things home from our trailer house by the lake to be re-oiled and refurbished during the cold winter months. Because of clotting in his legs, dad found it hard to walk down stairs so he would go down backwards. This time, as he was taking his tackle box down, he lost his balance, mom tried to grab him, but because he didn’t want her to get hurt too, he pushed her away and plunged down the stairs breaking his hip. His mother had broken her hip at the same home years earlier and never walked again so this was a very bleak outcome.
Three weeks later, and a week before the call, I was at my home in Hastings, the same home I grew up in. I was twenty-eight, married, and feeling good about life. On this trip we brought Doug, my best friend since the 1st grade. It was one of the grandest weekends of my life, all in vivid memory color. The trees were changing, the days were warm, the evenings chilly. We played Frisbee by Fisher Rainbow Fountain, leaves crunching underfoot. Dad was healing well and they thought he had a chance to walk again, and though mom seemed tired from taking care of him and making grape pies to put in the deep freeze, all seemed well and normal.
The first day
October the first, a few minutes before leaving for work, the call came. “Bob?! This is aunt Dot. Come home quick!” Continue reading