Bill's been gone how long? Seventeen years? Wait'll you get that eight in front. Nine? I'll only be 87, won't I? No, I don't want to do anything special for my birthday.
They took all my soap. Bring me a bar of Ivory so I can wash out my underwear. No, I can't send it to the laundry. You don't know what goes on here. They take my things. They took $14 the first week I moved in. That's why I keep everything locked in that cabinet. I don't care if my shoes do get all over my toothbrush. I'll wash it off.
Where's my key? It's too hot in here. Turn on the fan. Well, I get cold of a morning. I don't have a home anymore. This phone won't work. Well, how do I keep it turned on? No, I haven't heard from David or Carl. They don't call; I never see them.
It's Mother's Day? How long has Mama been gone? Was it '61? Eight years lying in that nursing home. Take her picture when you go. I can't look at it without crying. I'll never understand why Tom and Maudie let them hook her up to those machines. I didn't even know we had a choice until way after Mama was gone. They didn't even ask the rest of us. They just decided because they were the oldest. I never did forgive them. Don't you dare let
me linger on like that. If you do, I'll haunt you forever. You hear me? I mean it. Promise me that.
Isn't today Easter? I thought today was Easter. But it's good to get out. Have we been here before? What do I usually order? Just get me something easy I can eat. My hands don't work so good now.
Bill used to carry me to the cafeteria after church every Sunday after you boys left home. I liked fried chicken best. I never got any white meat when I fixed it. No, I didn't care much for gizzards. Bill's favorite was that cream gravy they had. I never put enough seasoning in it to suit him. But we had a good marriage. I got whatever I wanted. All I had to do was take care of the house and you three boys.
Well, of course you don't live with someone 54 years and not have problems. Don't listen to anybody say they don't. It took me years to make a good husband out of him. I finally had to put my foot down. I miss him, but if I'd known I was going to live this long I would have found another man.
I really loved Jimmy Blanton but I couldn't marry him because it was the Depression and his job took him to Dallas and he couldn't support me. Long after I married, he used to call when he passed through just to check on me. I tried to find him after Bill died but he was gone.
Then there was Averill from next door, but he didn't want to get married again after Mary Beth died. Besides, he was too sick and I didn't need to take care of another sick man. No, I just wish I could be with Bill again. Lord, it's been a long time. I pray every night for God to take me. I've been ready for I don't know how long now. But He's taking His own sweet time. Well, it's not my decision, is it. It's all up to the Man upstairs.
I know, I know, you've got to go now. I've enjoyed your visit so much. And it was good to get out for a change. Give me a hug and come see me again soon. Bye, bye now.
I love you.
Barry Basden edits Camroc Press Review.
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