When I woke, I peered out the window and saw Aunt Winnie’s car parked in front of our house. She and Mother were in the kitchen talking. It was summer and only 7 AM. Already, Uncle Pete was mowing the lawn and I realized it was the mower that had woken me. I stretched and yawned and thought of how long the day would be.
“I just wonder if they administered those Catholic last rites to him before I could get in the room,” I overheard Mother say. “You saw how those nuns were running around there at the end. It would make him so mad if they did some sort of Catholic ritual over him.”
“I know, Hazel, but there’s no use worrying about that now.” Winnie said. “We’ve got to try to put things back together the best we can.”
Mother went on. Her voice was shaky. “I know people get tired of me talking about it all, but I have to talk about it. I would go crazy if I couldn’t talk about it.” I heard her take in a deep breath. “I just don’t understand why I am still alive and he’s dead! It doesn’t make any sense!”
Winnie got her handkerchief out of her purse and blew her nose.
“I wish I had just let him stay home and die in peace,” Momma continued. “That’s what he wanted, but I thought if we went to the hospital, maybe they could help him.”
“You did the best you could Hazel. You did what anyone would have done,” Winnie said.
“They said he had been sick for years. And here I was blaming him and getting mad at him for the things he did and said and he couldn’t help it.” By this time, I had shuffled into the kitchen but did my best to stay quiet. Momma wiped her face with the dish towel and went to sit at the table with Winnie.
“Well, none of us knew he was sick. It was hard to deal with him. We all did the best we could,” Winnie said as she got her handkerchief out again to blow her nose.
Karen Brode grew up in Denison, TX and graduated from Denison High School in 1972. She took courses at Southeastern Oklahoma State University and worked in a church office for 25 years. She and her husband, Gary, have been married 39 years and they have one son, Brandon. Karen’s hobbies are writing, sewing, and gardening.