Yesterday was the anniversary of Mom's death. Thirty-three years ago, Dad and I ate Thanksgiving Dinner with the neighbors, who offered a prayer I don't remember or perhaps don't want to. Mom's death was imminent and we wanted her suffering to end.
“Get your dad out of here,” the private duty nurse who was Dad’s law partner’s sister-in-law, directed. “They have tickets to the play at the Morris Civic Center Theatre. Tell him you want to see it.”
“Daddy,” I said, " . . . let’s go to the play, tonight.”
“We have four tickets,” he said, “call the neighbor and ask if she and her daughter would like to go.”
Our neighbor was the wife of the doctor who lived across the street. She was not the wife of the doctor who opened my mom’s abdomen and told me she was terminal. She was not the wife of the doctor who fled Cuba with his wife and four children in a boat with several other families. She was not the wife of the doctor who performed a Caesarean on a woman who would have died without his intervention, even though he’d only been licensed as a GP, rather than a surgeon.
She was not the wife of the man who introduced the Lamaze method in a small town – he had a thick accent and when he offered to teach “breathing classes” in a VERY provincial community, it wasn’t long before the rumor mill suggested he wanted to teach “breeding classes.”
The neighbor's daughter, was young. Too young for the play, but none of us were functioning well at the time.
When we took our seats in the theater, Dad excused himself to let the box office know where we were seated in case Mom died. “The eyes have to be done,” he explained.
When he returned, he told me, quietly, “Harold will take you home.”
The woman in the seat to my left asked if I knew the people who regularly sat there. “They’re my mom and dad . . . I said. Mom died, tonight.”
The neighbor frowned and in a voice above a whisper, said, “Why did you say that? You spoiled the whole play for them.”
In the car on the way home after the play, Wanda, Harold's wife, asked, “How is your Mom?”
“She died tonight,” I said. “That’s why you’re taking us home.