Thursday, December 18, 2008
There's an old Chinese blessing that goes, "Grandfather dies, Father dies, Son dies." This is a blessing that provides that all men should live to be a grandfather, that no father should die before his son. It means a lot to me, especially since Dad died. See Mom with her arms around her Man. He's a happy man, he knows he has a wonderful wife who loves him and will always be there for him. Then there's Cher, my sister and she's behind Mom, smiling and hanging on.
Cher is with Mom tonight and she has been for a few days. Mom's dying. Cher is sitting nearby, sewing a dress and watching TV. When Mom wakes up sometimes she asks for ice and Cher gives her some crushed ice. Mom says a few words and goes back to sleep. Her lungs are like old lace and the ice tires her out.
Dad died from, in good measure, drug addiction. He smoked tobacco most of his life and it ate up his lungs until in the end he couldn't get out of his wheel chair. Mom smoked right alongside of Dad, like she always did things: right alongside Dad. Now she's waiting to see him again. He's out there, I bet, but he was an atheist and I bet he's holding back, a little ashamed that he was SO sure there was nothing after death. Who knows, maybe he took that "til death do us part." thing as gospel. But he was wrong and Mom expects him to be there. So, if you're reading this, Dad, you better get your butt in gear and sit tight until Mom makes her move.
Somewhere there are those who were before us and they wait for our return. A world without Mom will be a world without real smiles, a world with muted music and fewer rainbows. But it all fades, doesn't it? This is not our destiny, this is more like a game of hide and go seek. Now the sun is setting and our Mother calls us in to the warm house. We can always play again, She says, and they go through that door to the light beyond. It is warm and all their friends are there, all their relatives. Everybody's glad to see them. Dad reaches out for Mom and guides her to her seat. He's in his white shirt, white Stetson and bolo tie. He's wearing his boots and his belt with the big silver buckle. Mom looks around at all her family and can't stop smiling. Dad can't keep his hands off her. It's better than their wedding party because they know that their love will last forever. It already has.
I am not yet ready to cross the threshold, but I can look through the windows. As they serve the meal and pour the beers and wines Dad reaches over and taps her on her shoulder. Mom looks at him with bright eyes. He leans in and kisses her and whispers something that nobody else can hear. The music starts and he escorts her to the floor. It's a slow dance and they have forever.
The door closes quietly and I turn into the night and walk my slow way home. The snow sparkles behind me.