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A Good Son

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Post A Good Son   Sat Aug 20, 2011 1:41 pm

The Dying Woman

((Part two, of five) (to "A Good Son))

As years passed, Elise Teresa Lee, now in old age (1997), sitting in her rooms, in a large house her son now owned, she began to get new satisfaction off of the reflection of herself as a mother with a son who owned much property in the city, proper. In the evenings she sat on her wobbly thin legged chair knitting, watching old movies on the television a few feet away, she thought of her son among the men and women of the business class, with her bent heavy small fingers, old and wrinkled, no longer able to straighten them out, with pride. She recalled how her heart had jumped when he finished college, and now he had written three books. It seemed to her unbelievably astonishing-she had only finished eighth grade herself-implausible astonishing if not romantic that her son should someday be so successful, and stand up in a crowded room speaking on thoughts that came suddenly to his brain-he was just a red-haired boy who was so full of energy so complicated, so quick with his temper at times (not with her but with the rest of the world), who had run off to a war in South East Asia, as if it was a carnival-and came back with ribbons to prove he was a decorated and soldier of valor; and thereafter, traveled the world over, from end to end; a man of books and brains and muscle from hard work once upon a time. Thus, she had not lived in vain; a tranquilized peace comes over her. She couldn't even remember her long years of toil-

Death caught Elsie Lee, somewhat off guard. She had ended up in the hospital for several old age complications; she awoke one evening to find her son standing grim and expectant (somewhat in suspense) beside her bed. There she was, sitting propped among the pillows now, had lost all her fight, worn-out, looking like dried up pale wood-; Christopher had aged ten-years that day.

At sunrise, the following morning the conviction comes to her that she would die. Death was moving about in her room waiting for the sun to sit, to come through the window, and so it did. And then, life with all its sounds and meaning left her, as if an engine had been turned off.

No: 818 (6-14-2011)

A Short Day

((Part three of five) (to "A Good Son))

She knew there was a short day coming (everyone gets one), as well as she knew the place she'd go to after death, but she didn't think of it prior to death's exact moment-she was trying hard for a long time not to go there-although now, she was okay with it-it was, or had been her habit in life to fight not to dismiss it so lightly (she had battled cancer, and won twice).She knew there was a time for everything in the cycle of life. And she blamed no one for anything-she had fulfilled her life's plan. She had come to live on earth, and she had-there was no more too it than that. Life and death had visited her hand in hand throughout her life (this was its finality).

Now with her body turning slightly stiff-her blood in her body still slightly warm, in particular in her right arm-laying in bed, nearly like a wax figure, she was looking down upon herself, she heard her red-haired son, he was coming down the hospital corridor to her room-she muttered silently, in her new essence, "I hate for him to see me this way."

No: 819 (6-14-2011)

The Cremation

((Part four of five) (to "A Good Son))

Christopher Lee and his brother Mike had their mother cremated, as she had wished (although in agreement, he took no part in it),and thereafter, on a summer afternoon Christopher drove his Cadillac car pointlessly on the streets of his native city. On the day of the wake he left his empty home, which he had lived with his mother, but he could not stay there, he went at once to the busy bookstore, in which he patronized quite often. For a long moment he stood book in hand by a table near the circular café that was in the center of the bookstore, listening to the voices of the readers, and food service people behind him in the large room around him and then put the book on the table, and hurried away to look at other books on shelves.

The voices of men and women broke the stillness of the room in which he roamed. Their thin like mumbling created a sharpness that penetrated something within him, and he could not bear the thought of a flood of tears that would fall upon him, nor attend his mother's crematoria wake a few miles away-which his brother insisted on having, he did not want to visualize his mother's body in a wooden urn when he'd come into the presence of the dead.

After the wake, on his way home an idea had come to him. "I will keep her in the house among the things she loved so dear, in a location that looks into the room she sat and watched television," he told himself. Thus, this had come into his mind, instead of throwing her ashes over into the Mississippi River as one member of the family had suggested. So he found himself speculating on the possibility of life and death, and having her in the house brought comfort to him, he brushed all other thoughts aside. "Yes, when people visit me, she'll be right there, back home, sitting near where she once sat," he thought, "instead of a cold cemetery that nobody will ever visit, buried deep into the ground."

He had traveled and knew this was not so uncommon in the old days, especially in other countries nowadays, they even kept bones piled on semi open wooden pyres (altars),in their backyards for the dead in many Asian countries; he looked at the urn and thought of the dead woman. Outside the wind picked up, blew sharply against the wooden framed house, and the middle aged man worked quickly to find the exact place he wanted the urn to be, vigorously making every thing around the urn, neat and clean. He heard voices outside, cars driving by, "It is the right place for the dead to rest," whispered Christopher. "When my own time comes I shall be glad to be brought back here. Here I would not mine being, in the end, both of us side by side."

This thought that had come to Christopher pleased him. The man in him threw back his shoulders, and he stood up tall, "We are two of a kind," he mumbled to himself, "two of a kind and mother understands this; perhaps more so than any woman was intended to understand a son."

It was now towards evening, the sun had gone down, the moon hidden by the gray clouds, "I wonder if I understand myself?" he pondered, as he sat back in the chair he often saw his mother wobble on, until one day he had bought her a sofa chair, that didn't wobble. He thought of the wake his brother had attended for the dead woman, those others who had sat with crossed hands and legs looking at the urn and flowers his brother insisted be on the altar, around the urn on what was a strange and empty altar used by so many on such occasions-all sitting like undertakers beside one another, and for some reason a lump came into his throat, and a flood of tears burst out of his eyes like a storm. Perhaps he was waiting for that-it was a long interval, long enough, and the tears were so heavy it was as if he was climbing over logs to save his self from drowning.

No: 820 (6-16-2011)

Thoughts of a Dead Mother

((Part five of five) (to "A Good Son)

Christopher listened. There he sat-a year later, 2004-day after day in the bookstore, as if it was in some strange darkened room, his second self beside him. He was grieving, and he would for a total of three plus years. He tried to tell his second self (that inner spirit that whispers to you, that seems to know you better than anyone, the one that you are talking to when someone asks '...who are you talking to?' and you say, 'Myself')-tried I say, to tell his second self,of his life with his mother (the thirty-six years they had lived together, he counted them, himself being twenty-years older).He would have liked to have told her of his life in the world, the one he got to know without her, and how disorganized and dysfunctional and ineffective all contemporary and modern life seems to be, seemed to him, to be, at this very moment, perhaps half of that moment was grieving, the other half pure truth.

Sadness that accompanies grief invaded his head, filled it up with thoughts of his mother and how peaceful she appeared to have died.

"It was a good death," he told himself, "perhaps the best way to die, a slow march to an orderly and peaceful end, having time to say goodbye, however one achieves that," he whispered to himself.

Jerry, the café manager, came over to greet Christopher, he began to talk, it seemed Lee's jaw had loosened up some, it was tense, as if tightly put together with force, teeth against teeth, near grinding. He had been blind with anger and sorrow, on all sides of him appeared blank empty faces-but Jerry's-and badly knit bodies.

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