Turning ninety in August was a milestone for my mother, in fact for an entire family blessed and cursed by both the longlife and shortlife genes. Turning ninety with all of her charm and intellect intact was an accomplishment she cherished and we celebrated. My once tall mother is now tiny, and fragile with skin so thin the blood pools at every touch. She is lively, strong-willed and determined most days. She has scores of friends and always makes sure others are included and supported. In her Independent Living community she writes and edits a monthly newsletter, makes lively contributions to her book group, and attends the opera. She refuses to be assigned a regular place in the dining room, insisting that she will "eat around" because life is more interesting if one meets and connects with all of her neighbors. A week ago she took a spill, broke her hip, went into surgery and woke up confused and disoriented. Her mind, more precious than her mobility began to slip into other times and places. The docs said this is not unusual as there has been a combination of trauma, anesthesia, painkillers, oxygen levels, and dehydration. Glad to report that time and Gator Aid seem to be making things a bit better.
Sam Owen was twelve and full of hopes and dreams. In March his pink cheeks turned gray. All the love and support and medicine in the world couldn't make those cheeks pink again. Sam Owen turned thirteen last week in a hospital bed. His best friend read Sam's Bar Mitzvah while his dad held his hand. Days later the motorcade that made the somber trip along the blue you can live forever lakes stretched for devastated wretched mournful miles and miles. Sam Owen was a beautiful beloved boy.
We did some time in Mississippi. He had a a pretty neat University job and Lonely Rivers thought that her job would change the world. Baby Rivers celebrated her second birthday in a house that flooded everytime it rained. A woman came to our house every day before we woke up. She made biscuits from scratch and then she ironed our clothes and cleaned our house. She wasn't afraid of the spiders and killed snakes without a blink. She made us blackeyed peas and greens and cornbread. Her laugh came from deep deep in her belly,but she never called me by my first name. Not once. She loved Baby Rivers who loved her right back. She charged ten dollars a day, cash. It pains me to say that try as I might, I just can't remember her name. First or last. But I sure do remember those biscuits.