My father lingers outside my kitchen. He had his taxes done today, and when the accountant brought up my mother's death, Sonny broke down, a couple of small polite sobs. He wanted to tell me this and then the moment passes. We find ourselves in this quagmire often. We are talking about my mother and then we're stuck in this particularly sad moment and we don't know how to maneuver away from the subject. I need to hire a clown to sit on my couch and tell us a joke when this happens, maybe make some balloon animals.
My mother's body, all eighty-two pounds, had been donated to the University of Iowa Hospitals, a charitable gift of sorts. They will keep her nine to twelve months and then return her ashes to us. I often find myself counting down the months wondering if she is on her way home yet. It was a hot July Friday night when she left and July will never be the same for me. On that night the funeral parlor guy showed up fifteen minutes after the demise.
The thing that amazed me was how beautifully dressed and polished this guy was at that late hour. Like he was in a room somewhere waiting to be summoned, standing at attention so as not to wrinkle his Dockers. I was grateful he was so impeccably classy, I needed that kind of guy to escort my mother, I wanted no one else.
I bought her one last bouquet during the final days. One of the roses I placed on her chest as she left my sight and the rest I still have, dried in a cupboard. They were in the room while she still drew breath. I saw the elevator door close and I struggled with the thought that I would not see her again.
We roll into March and aren't we glad, just saying the word is like a tonic to the brain. We know we will see more snow but we anticipate it to be more controlled, less fanatical than January and February's storms. The sky matches the land today, too much grey and brown for any artist's soul. And then I see the Nazi putting away his snow shovel and I want to say stop, bad luck, instant guarantee of a mammoth snow storm about to break. It's like changing your socks during the World Series, you don't do it. But I never talk to him.
Buds are everywhere and I'm hearing new birds in the morning. My house plants experience a growth surge and they push out new green leaves at an intense rate, they sense the long growing season just ahead of us. We live inside our heads and forced-heated rooms all winter and we don't notice how soft the morning air is starting to feel.