After reading Rose, a chapbook of about 75 pages of poems by Li Young Lee, I began to think about those which expressed missing his deceased father which led me to thoughts of my own long gone parents and their last home where my sister and I both lived with them until our lives took us elsewhere.
The house looked the same as ever as I sat on the couch and stared out the front room window as my father often did. I can still imagine him there sitting on the couch reading his assortment of newspapers and magazines, the sun lighting up the print as he browsed.
No one else was there. Nothing was cooking and I did not make anything. My mother had been dead for seven years and now my father was gone as well.
I wondered if I would sense anything about them, as if one or the other of them was still there, just off in a different room or in the basement for some chore. It was quiet, peaceful and now felt empty.
I crossed the Cuyahoga each weekend just to have a walk around the house and yard to be sure things were unchanged and unharmed. Sometimes I gathered up debris which fell from my father’s beloved trees, apple, and pear. Why plant a tree that did not yield fruit? It was the same attitude my father had about flowers, you couldn’t eat them, so why waste the space. Those old depression day memories of always being a little hungry never left him.
I threw an old plastic cup my mother used for water when she took her medicines, into the trash. It was ugly and worn and I thought she deserved to use something nicer. This was something I told her more than once, but old habits die hard, as they say. There were much better cups and glasses in the cupboard. What was she saving them for? In a high cupboard I found a whole set of glasses with the first letter of the family name etched on each. They must have been a gift, and judging from the thick coat of dust on them, a lovely gift that had gone unused. I had never seen them before. Now they are within reach in my kitchen cupboard.
A deep orange glass vase was left in a corner where it collected dust since I bought it for her many a mother’s day ago. I put it by the front door to remember to take it home.
Although my father talked about moving to the other side of town where most of the rest of the family lived, he never did so and I always felt that it was because he felt like somehow my mother was still in that house though he knew she was gone. He said he would get up sometimes in the night to find the water running in the kitchen sink. And of course he had dreams. Once he reported that he asked her how she could be there when she was dead. If she answered him, he did not say.
One time when I went to the cemetery where they shared a headstone, directly next to his parents, I noticed that he never had my mother’s death date inscribed on the stone, as if he never quite believed she was gone. Perhaps it was too much of a finality for him. I called the office there and had both his date and her’s inscribed on the stone.