Saturday, June 24, 2017

24 June 2017

When my father died, he called down the hallway to me, and I came back. (The nurse said I could still talk to him, so I whispered good-bye in my father's, though--being dead--he couldn't acknowledge me.)  My mother gave him my father's gold Rolex, the one he'd bought for $100 after the war; she sold him our grand piano. He did her taxes when she could no longer keep her accounts straight, and told me on the phone that she was doing well when she was not. There was a cashier at Safeway, he told me, who spoke over 10 languages. Sure enough, the man bagging my groceries talked to a woman in Korean. She laughed. When he and his wife came to see my mother in her Alzheimer's home for the last time (I asked them to come), he teased her with motions of his arms and questions she could not answer. He said he could spend hours there engaging with her who slumped against the arm rest, her eyes flat glass. When my mother died, he sent a brief note. When his wife died, he sent a longer one. She'd collapsed suddenly after a wonderful day together. When I saw his house had sold, I emailed him and got no answer. I googled his name. There was his mug, an address in Incarceration, Virginia. He had a number, a sentence, and a crime: aggravated sexual assault. Someone had failed to protect him. A year and a half after his arrest the house sold and movers took everything away, but none of the neighbors knew a damn thing.

--24 June 2017

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