Saturday, January 18, 2014

Now I Lay Me Down to Sleep

     Ten years.  Ten years don’t seem that long when you get to be my age, but it’s been ten years since she passed.  They say you should always think well of the dead, and I guess you should.  But does that mean I should forget the spats over money, or never seeing eye-to-eye when it came to the kids?  Should I forget that long dry spell after her hysterectomy and all the stress that caused?  I think not; that wouldn’t be honest.  That’s part of marriage, ain’t it?
     We had a good life and a pretty good marriage, Squiggy and me.  What?  Oh, you thought -- Yes, she was named Eve, but to me she was and always will be my Squiggy.  Funny story:  We weren’t married a year when we stopped by old man Turner’s for a hose and bucket to wash the outside windows.  Oh, what’s that guy that used to date Mariam Haskins?  What the hell was his name?  Shit.  Baboon?  Babble?  Babbette, yeah Bobby Babbette.  He was there talking to us and asked Eve about getting the streaks off the windows.  She turned ‘round asked old Lou for one of them squiggies.  You’d think the whole town was there laughing the raucous we made.  Ain’t no one that knew us ever used the word squeegee after that; they’d always be squiggies and Eve, from then on, Eve was my Squiggy.
     Oh, you hear that?  That’s our young’un Clive.  He’s bringing some of that loud equipment to clean up the backyard.  It’s got to be a mess out there.
     You know what’s wrong with this world?  People don’t have family traditions anymore; that’s what’s wrong with kids these days.  All these smart phones and computers, nobody’s got time for face-to-face people.  That ain’t the way we raised our boys, no siree bob.  Sunday supper was our family time.  Everything stopped for Sunday supper.  In the winter, we all sit in the dining room at the big table.  No TV, no phonograph records, no radio, just family talk.  We’d talk about their schooling or sports, even girlfriends and fistfights.  My boys were open with us, so they knew they could talk ‘bout anything and we’d listen.  I can’t boast that Squiggy and I didn’t go up the side of one their heads now and again, but mostly, we just talked.  We talked them boys through all the bad times right along with all the good ones.
     “Hey boy, you gonna get those weeds all out there by the table.  Your brothers are coming and we gonna have us an old time Maris Sunday supper out there at the table.”
     He’s the youngest; sharp as a tack, but never could get good grades in school.  He’s done alright though, took some classes over the VoTech and made hisself into a pretty damned good mechanic.  Samuel and Bo, they both went to the Community College, cost me an arm and a leg, but now they got degrees and work over to the Allstate.
     What?  Oh, yeah, supper.  In the warm weather, we had our Sunday suppers out at the picnic table in the yard.  No, no barbequing, no siree bob, Squiggy would cook a roast or a big chicken, sometimes even a turkey when they was cheap enough.  Sunday suppers were for supper.  Meat, vegetables, potatoes, rolls, gravy, the whole ten yards; apple pie and ice cream; it was a supper, you know what I mean?
     Oh yeah, sometimes we’d barbeque, but never on a Sunday.  Friday night, maybe Saturday.  It all depended on what the boys were doing.  That’s sort of a casual thing, barbequing, not like a regular supper.
     Here comes my other two. 
     “Hey boys.  Yeah, Sam, I feel okay.  A little weak, you know, but all-in-all, not bad for an old sick guy.  Yes siree he’s out back, can’t you hear that racket?  Go help him finish, I want to sit out in the sun before it sets.”
     That’s why I wanted this supper; I’m sick. 
     Oh, Frank’s wife, she’s cooking it over at their place.  No, he ain’t no relative.  I met him when I use to go to the Moose Lodge.  Eleanor, his wife’ll bring it by later so the boys and I can sup without all that hard work and cleanup.
     Anyways, you asked about me being sick.  See, I had a sore kinda to the left side of my bald spot; see that scar?  The doctor looked at it and said it was a melanoma; they operated and took a big chunk of my scalp off, but that wasn’t enough I guess.  I hate that word: metastasized.  Always hated it even when it had nothing to do with me or my head.
     They shut them motors off, didn’t they?  You think they’re done?
     “Bo, you all ‘bout finished out there?  Then give me hand; I want to sit in the sun.”

     Ten years.  Almost one seventh of my life, since I sat out here.  Never could sell this place, too many memories.  See that mess over there, that was Squiggy’s vegetable garden.  I think it was two years ago, I was walking around, I was a little more spry back then, but right in the middle of them weeds, there was a damned zucchini growing.  I picked it and ate it that night.  I laughed and I cried a bit with the spirit of my Squiggy; she was still feeding me after all these years.
     That sun feels good don’t it?  Like the summers when the boys played Little League, and we’d sit in the stands eating those gummy Red Hots and drinking Coke from them tiny little bottles. 
     Yes, I’m a little tired from the radiation.  That sucks the strength out of you; I told Doc Grains that I didn’t want no more.  I ain’t got but a few weeks at best anyway, why be sick for that? 
     Yeah, this is probably going to be the last Maris Sunday supper.
The sun feels like a heating pad on my back.  I’m gonna lay my head down while we talk, okay? 
     The boys coming for Sunday supper is real special to me.  It’s good to have a nice family.  Their wives’ll be along shortly.  All three of ‘em got a nice girl, you’ll like them, too.
     Ah, that sun feels so good; it’s so warm.  It makes me feel like I ain’t so sick no more. 
     Sunday supper.  A Maris Sunday supper.  All of us back together  -- the whole family -- like the old days.  I think I'm feeling -- No, I know I'm feeling better -- this is making -- nothing seems to be hurting so much.  Sunday supper -- sigh -- I feel like I did when Squiggy was here.  Yeah, I’m feeling so much better now.  A real Sunday supper.  That sun feels good -- the pain is -- sigh -- is going away.

“Squiggy!  You came for supper?  Oh, Squiggy, I’ve missed you.”

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