Quite A Sense Of Humor She Had

 

The worst of all days was the day Momma died

though to be honest it was a relief because the

years of smoking had taken a toll, even though

she denied she’d had even a puff since she and

Daddy quit together when the Surgeon General

said it was bad for their health back in the 60’s.

 

There was also heart disease and TIA’s, which,

though small, were tectonic in shifting the vast

contents of her brain, separating hemispheres

so she forgot that she still smoked, but then the

forgetting became routine, so that just now and

back then slipped away with equivalent speed.

 

She forgot that she had children and children’s

children, forgot that the man sleeping nearby

was her husband, and then she forgot how to

eat and had to be coaxed like a toddler to try a

bite which she’d hold between teeth, clenching

breakfast like a grizzled dog worrying a new bone.

 

But the forgetting that was worst of all, besides

our faces and names, was the brilliance of her

wit and how her words glittered like jewels cut

so each facet captured her genius, and yet she’d

toss them off like feathers from a bird in flight,

sure there was more from whence those came.

 

When that was gone the laughter went and joy

withdrew; from the head back and eyes streaming

pealing of the bells to a demure hand-over-mouth

titter, the music of mirth ceased its ringing and that

was when the mother I loved departed, and the

blank-faced, wordless woman arrived.

 

On the day her body stopped the parody of life,

I hauled her from the tangle of sheets before the

family saw how she’d thrashed her way loose,

straightened her up, tucked her in, smoothed

her hair and closed her eyes, first one and then

the other, then the first again, and again the other.

 

She popped them open in an alternating wink

that made me throw back the covers and press

my ear to her quiet heart; clutch her hand till it

grew cold, then look to the air and ask that

she cooperate, please, as this display of her

recovered humor would not be amusing just now.

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