In Other News

A geriatrician holds the hand of an elderly woman with arthritis.“In other news: The vaccine war continues…” A busty news anchor, more flash than fact, chirped from the TV in my mother’s room.

“Mom, Would you turn that shit off?”

She ignored me like she always does. I climbed the stairs to shut her door so that I wouldn’t have to listen to it.

She sat on her bed with a cup of coffee in one hand and a cigarette, with an ash about to drop, in the other. Her eyes were glued to the screen.

“Mom, I told you, you aren’t allowed to smoke in my house.” I put the folded laundry I’d been carrying to the kids’ room on her bed, took the cigarette from her fingers and dropped it into her cup.

That got her attention.

“I bet you and Bill didn’t vaccinate your kids. Great, I’m going to die of measles.”

“Mom, if you don’t die from cancer in the next five minutes, I may kill you myself, so you don’t have to worry about measles.”

I turned off the TV, went to her window and slid the curtains open.

“Ugh.” She covered her eyes with her arm. I noticed she needed a new bathrobe. The one she wore was stained and the sleeve’s hem had come unraveled. Maybe I’d wash it in the next load and give her a needle and thread to fix it.

‘It’s a gorgeous day outside. Why don’t you take Skipper for a walk? You could go up the cafe. Take a book with you. Go meet people.” I opened the window to air out the room.

“You sound like my mother.”

“No, Mom, I sound like my mother.”

“You were so rebellious. What happened to you? You don’t even eat gluten, for God’s sake.”

“Give me your robe, Mom. I’m going to wash it for you.” She stood up, reached into her pocket and pulled out a pack of cigarettes and a lighter. She flipped the box open, and stuck a cigarette between her lips. Her bony thumb turned the flint wheel and a flame leapt into the air.


“Ha! It sucks doesn’t it? Now you know how I felt all those years.” She looked at me evenly.

Vestiges of beauty remained in her eyes.



Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *