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Frances Marie

3 Mar

The day before she died, it took her over two hours to do the dishes. She was always like that— dishes had to be washed. She pulled up a chair close to the kitchen sink where she rested between bowls and forks. In my ignorance I chastised her for her lack of laziness—snapping loudly that I wished she would just go sit and relax.

We found her cold cup of tea on the table next to her favorite chair. It was only half empty. It sat there a long time. My mother finally drank it. It sat empty on the counter—no one wanting it to be washed. It held her there. Her lipstick—a reminder of her sweet kisses. We will never know those again, I thought. I felt cheated that my mother had taken my grandmother’s last sip.

I will never forget the day before she died. I dressed her one last time. A fancy sweater with matching slacks. “I suppose you’ll just give all my clothes away, once I’m gone.” “Probably,” I answered coldly. She had talked of death for too many years. I was hard to it—yet she was telling me.

I made her lunch—canned soup. I had fulfilled my duty. I ran out the door with barely a thought—I was late. I realized I had not hugged her as I walked to the already running car. No time I thought. Tomorrow.

She read her a story over the phone: “Three Little pigs.” It was late and neither one could sleep. It would be the last story she read to her. The next phone call would be the news. “She’s gone, honey. Mama’s gone.”

I sat there for a long time. Three hours away from the place she left her body. It would take me a long time to get there, I thought. Traffic. I will miss the moment where the dead are said to “hang around.”

She looked like she was sleeping. Then again, maybe she tried to get up—but I think she died instead. She wasn’t there, she wasn’t hanging around. In the kitchen, the chair was still next to the sink. Dishes in the drying rack. I sat down in the chair, quiet—and washed her cup.


Broken Silence ©

17 Feb

He stood in his vacant welding shop, and peered out into his forty acres which was once filled with livestock, hay bales and a family. Snow covered the barren land and a thick stillness remained. He pondered whether or not to call her again. Phoning her had been a new, but daily routine for quite some time. He wondered what she was doing, where she was and if she would call him tonight. He hoped she would. He wanted her to. He wanted her to know how lonely he was—how unhappy he was. If only he could tell her that.


“He must admit that he is powerless and that his life has become unmanageable.” The woman’s words seared a hole in her chest as she envisioned her stout and intimidating father. He’ll never admit to such a thing, she told herself as the tall and lanky woman continued to speak. “I want you to write him a letter, and in that letter I want you to tell him why you are doing this. Tell him how he has hurt you.” Thoughts welled up within the young girl as her eyes began to flood, tears in a hurry to escape. How he has hurt her? She couldn’t possibly say those things to him. This woman didn’t know her dad. How unpredictable he was. She could never tell him those things.

“You’re doing the right thing, a very brave thing. You are saving his life,” the woman continued.  The young girl looked around the plain room, and tried to dismiss how uncomfortable everyone’s stares made her. Two of his best drinking buddies, one—a longtime neighbor, sat next to her and squirmed as they watched and listened to the nervous daughter now twenty-nine years of age, pregnant and emotional. Strangely, they were the reason she was there. It was time, they told her.  It was time to reach out to the only one who had yet to free himself from the very thing that bonded them all together.

She sat there, in the deep broken down cushions of the woman’s stained couch, pregnant belly squished and confined. A daughter and soon to be new mother, she was in a fog. All she could think of were drunken nights, broken promises righteously defended and the unforgiving family torn apart.

Both had asked her, “Are you willing to do this? Write him a letter? You have to read it to him. Tell him why you are doing this.” She glowered at them, and finally spoke. “Yes,” she said as all three listened to her very grounded and controlled voice. “You all have asked me if I am willing to help you, and if I am strong enough to go through it. You tell me what I’ll gain from this: A new father and a new relationship. An opportunity to “give back” to him, for all the wonderful things he has done for me.” Her gut twisted and churned as feelings she abandoned a long time ago rose to the surface. In a forced and strained voice, she reminded them of her relationship with her father. How it was based upon fear, power and loss. He didn’t take advice from his daughter, he gave it. He didn’t accept opinions from his daughter, he gave them. She was a daughter unable to reach out to her father, for fear of what he would do if she touched him. Physical contact was on his terms only. They had to know what she had to lose. She had been left in a distant place hanging on to a frayed thread, waiting for him to make the final snip. Silent thick air consumed the room. The meeting was over. In just a few days, her father unaware of the planned sabotage would be given a choice—an ultimatum.


It was early, about six in the morning. He could see his breath as he forced a new log into the fire-place. He stoked the coals to get the fire going, and thought about the night before with his daughter and her husband. Christmas day filled with movies and a feast of prime rib. He remembered the moment she got up off the couch, excited that she had felt the baby move for the first time, as she handed him a cold one. They must have stayed late last night he thought. He didn’t remember them leaving.

He stood in his kitchen, and stared out the sliding glass door to the barren field as the fire grew and began to crackle. He eyed the bottle of Kamora in the glass cupboard out of the corner of his eye and thought of his morning coffee.  He had only one beer left, and would have to drive to the gas station eight miles north to get more.

It was quiet he thought. Not a breath of wind out there. Two deer gently grazed out in the field, and worked slowly through the drifts of snow. He was tired of his morning routine, he thought to himself. Tired of the heavy feeling from the day before and the hangover pains that never really went away, and as he pondered either getting into the bottle of Kamora or heading to the store the silence was broken by the sound of crunching snow. He looked up. The deer had run off.

He went to the bedroom window and saw his neighbor’s truck pull in the yard. This was not at all uncommon, and as he went back to the kitchen to check the pot of coffee to see if he needed to refresh the pot, he heard several voices outside. That was strange he thought to himself. He went to the sliding glass door and saw that two vehicles had pulled up. His neighbor got out, shut the door and walked to the porch. “Howdy,” he called out. “Howdy back at ya” he returned. Then he saw her. Her face red, wet and eyes swollen. “Hi daddy,” her voice cracked. His heart sank. He wondered what the hell was going on. Both of his best friends, his daughter and her husband began walking up the steps. Then he noticed another woman getting out of the second vehicle. He had never seen her before…but he knew who she was.


Letters were read and tears were shed. He said nothing in return. He sat at his desk in the living room, stared out the window and listened but never looking at anyone. His daughter so fearful of what he would say. So fearful of what he would do, ready to be thrown out of the house and told never to return. His friends, who knew him better and knew more of him, had expectations of something very different. They expected him to question the cost and time away from work. All had been previously handled. They had called his boss, his union representative and consulted his insurance. A bed was already reserved at the local rehabilitation center. No matter what he said, they were ready to present him with their action plan. But, none of this concerned his daughter. All she wanted to hear, whether the answer was yes or no, was that he would still love her. He would still want her.

Time slowed as the air became silent and thick. All were consumed as they waited for his response. The room began to get smaller and smaller she thought. Her heart pounded, and her body shook. She felt like she was treading in thick Jell-o. Her eyes filled entirely with tears and barely able to see, she opened her mouth ready to say she was sorry. She wanted to tell him it wasn’t her idea, and beg him to forgive her. Her father turned and looked at her. His chin quivered as he tried to hide the fact that he had been crying. Tears poured down his face, and betraying his efforts to remain ever powerful and in control the silence was finally broken as he said to her: “What took you so long?”

My Window ©

24 Jan

You are the window

to which I write by

Even though, at times fogged

by my ever persistent thoughts


You are the cool breeze

that blows through my leaves

And the healing water

that washes away my fears


You are the warm and cozy feeling

as I slip my cold feet into my slippers

You are the sweet hug of my favorite chair

as I lie back, close my eyes and find you there


You are the drum of rain-beating against my heart

when a storm moves through us-reminding us

That we are ever still fragile

when not at peace.


Sitting now, listening to Chopin’s-Nocturno

I am full of thoughts of you

Blowing through my leaves

scattering me to pieces, and loving you for it.


You are the window

to which I write by

And as I sit here with my ever persistent thoughts

I draw a heart around your name.