A WIP!Once again.

Title: Since Larry Died

Newly widowed Joan braced her hands on the edge of the kitchen sink as she stared out at the garden. She breathed in the scent of lilacs wafting through the open window and thought what a mess and she had to fix it, make it right and why? No one’s home and only she would see the flowers bloom anymore; the fun of pulling dandelions together ended the day his heart attacked him.

A laundry list of pleasure left her life but the worst one to top the list was he never even said goodby.

Joan inhaled a deep breath and let it out in hopes the memories would fade in time; then the backload of conviction she’d summed up to battle her wallowing in the abyss, she snapped her shoulders back and spoke to her deceased husband.

“You exited stage left so I’ll write the next scene myself, if that’s okay, my dear.”

She had to write a letter to him; “Dear deceased Larry, you son of a bitch! “It’s your fault you died and left me alone. Take your pills, I said, everyday, but no; and now you’re gone and I’m alone.

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The last part of the long run

“Paul, here she is.” The grandmother who didn’t live long enough to meet this fine son of mine. So beautiful with prematurely white hair swept up in a pompadour forming a halo around her head, an orchid pinned to a pale gold organza gown. I remembered so well the day she bought it.

He hurried to my side, squeezed my hand, and touched my throat to speak to no avail.

I whispered, “I want three red roses for her headstone. Paul hugged me and patted my back. Three for Pop; one from me, one from you and one from Amy. The two of my children who never knew my mother only through stories and snapshots.

Paul’s new friend Rueben directed us to Walmart around the corner; we had half an hour before the appointed hour of the graveside service, the day after Mother’s Day. A kind saleswoman said there weren’t any flowers left and as we walked away dejected, she called us back. “Look in the shopping cart over there where there should be some leftovers. We thanked her, selected six roses and left.

Once more , we waited next to the fence silent in the rented car, the wilted roses, three red-three pink, between us. A shiny black hearse pulled up; Paul got out of the car and around to open my door, and steered me up and out.

I was dressed in a black pants suit, my son wore his only dark suit and we stood there with our six flowers at a cemetery in Chicago on a cold spring morning.  The back of the hearse opened; a somber man dressed in black, pulled along a polished wooden box balanced on rollers onto the tailgate. Paul edged me forward; the limousine transporting the family hadn’t arrived yet. On this brisk windy morning, we were there to greet my father who lived to be ninety four and I murmured to Paul, “No matter how old, you never want to let them go.”

The driver moved aside and we approached, my son and I. I reached out to touch the coffin. My hand flattened on the box and in a quavery voice, I sang the song Pop and I had sung together for ten years, mostly by long distance. I would sing one line, he the next; a silly song about a goat he taught me when I was a child. We never had a real conversation but we had our song. It never failed to make us laugh, and in the long run, that’s more than good enough.

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Thanks for sharing my memoirs. Love, Charmaine

The Long Run

The gravedigger looked up from where he stood six feet below the ground; Rueben,” he said in response to my son’s query as he scrambled out of my father’s final home. He told us he’d been with the Union for sixteen years and made seventeen dollars and thirty five cents an hour.

Paul, my youngest son who traveled with me at a moment’s notice to my hometown Chicago, gathered information about every living creature out of curiousity and intense interest.

So now we knew a lot about Rueben, a Native American, whose long black braid lifted and fell according to the whim of the strong wind that blew across the cemetery on Chicago’s West Side.

I looked into the excavation and pointed to an exposed side of the stone or concrete; their eyes shifted to where I indicated.

Rueben said, “That’s the burial site next door and he jumped into the hole, ran experienced hands over the side, smiled and climbed out. “Good tight fit, no water in there and he bent over and touched the headstone in front of me. “It’s hers.”

The polished marble had my mother’s name engraved on it; I hadn’t knelt down, carressed the letters of her name and years of her life span and lifted the cover protecting her picture from strangers eyes and the harsh element of weather.

I sucked in a deep breath and touched her radiant smile captured forever the day I was married fifty years ago.

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Here’s to our friend Rachel Devineuk. Everyone , please keep her in your loving thoughts as she goes through surgery.

More memories

This is the time of my life when memories come fast and strong. I recall the son who didn’t live. Labor pains came, I heard the delivery and asked the nurse what I had. She said for me to wait for the doctor. The news was grim. The baby didn’t survive.

Some months later, the same experience happened. We had two sons and then bad luck. Another one lost. Determined to complete my little flock, I eventually had another baby boy so precious and then the girl I’d waited for. A difficult task and finally she was born; I came close to dying but survived after four days. I saw the light in a tunnel, reached for it and thought; live. Your husband has to be there for the little ones so new and the older sons. So I lived and lived to raise a family expecting the older kids to grow and be so fine.

Not true. They didn’t do as they should; my husband died and I was alone. Truly alone. So that’s life. Determined to move on, meet someone knew, that;s what I did. We make a good pair, taking care of each other. Once in a while, things work out.

Thanks for listening. May your lives be happy and blessed.

Revealed one more time.

Mom, I hate to interrupt your memories but we have a plane to catch. How come we’re in Pop’s closet?

I sat on the carpeted floor, my hands felt every seam. “At the cemetery, as we watched the casket lower, I turned to my youngest brother and said, “Who was he, this ninety four year old man who cast a long  shadow over all our lives. He was secretive, guarded, private and very wealthy. We never had a conversation and his one piece of advice to his only daughter was ‘never trust anyone.’

“So what did Uncle Garry say?”

“He said the answer was in a hidden pocket in this jacket.”

“That’s why we’re here? You’re searching for an answer to this. . .” “I think I’ve found it, Paul.” My hands shook as I fumbled for a tiny opening in the lining; you look, I’m too nervous.” So he handed the flashlight to me, I gave him the jacket; shined the light and indicated where the pocket was.

He inserted one finger, that’s all he could fit and said: Nothing there, Mom and he turned the jacket upside down, smacked it a few times in an atempt to dislodge anything.

“Nothing, I said. :The secret of my Father was remains a secret.” My heart hurt.

“That’s not right, Mom; there was no secret; he was whatever he was and that’s fine and he pulled me to my feet and we left the closet.

“Can I keep the jacket?”

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It Will All be Revealed, won’t it?

“Too dark in here,” I said to my son, Paul, who had accompanied me to my father’s funeral in Chicago.

“Hit the light switch, Mom.”

“I did but the bulb burned out.”

“Like Poppa,” he said. “Like Poppa what?” I said.

“Burned out.” “Kaput,” I said in the dark, falling into the old word game we’d played since Paul was a pup.

“Fini.” “Bought the farm,” I said. A shared chuckle from the black humor.

A click in the dark and a narrow beam of light illuminated my Father’s  packed closet; I groped for his favorite jacket and there it was, worn brown leather bomber style. I pulled it off the hook where it hung for easy access by aged hands and hugged it to my chest. “Smell this,” my son, the jacket thrust in front of his nose where he couldn’t escape.

He inhaled and questioned, “what is it?”

“Perfecto Garcia Queens, Poppas favorites he sent me to the corner drug store to buy them, a quarter a piece.”

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Short story

She was born and a few days later she got married. She could hardly remember a time when Bob wasn’t an inportant part of her life.

They met in high school, a suburb of the north side of Chicago. Joyce was a freshman, Bob the big senior voted the funniest in his class; a six footer with sand colored hair, green eyes and freckles.  Who could resist him? Not Joyce who made up her mind, setting her cap, the way people spoke in the forties. Like a detective on the scent, she tracked down his schedule to find out where he’d be at homeroom. where everyone had to be at 10 a.m.

Racing up to the fourth floor domain of the seniors, the freshman , wearing a red plaid pleated skirt, red cashmere sweater set with Peter Pan collar dickey and white bobby socks with white and brown saddle shoes, ran up three flights, taking the stairs two at a time.

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