FWF Kellie Elmore

“I am a very old man, yes, I am older than this tree that grows in the backyard of my son’s house. I sit on the green bench so I can watch the tree in all weathers, I have lived here for 200 days now. Enough days, too much. I am dying, I need to go home.

Two hundred days and twenty days ago my beautiful wife, Shuen-Lie of sixty-seven years died, my son from America come to China, I am with pride. Soon, he moves my things together. I say good-bye to him and he gets large and shakes his head the way I used to saw trees and branches to make huts, back and forth, NO, NO, NO in angry voice. But in our culture you do not say no to an elder. He does, he takes my things, brings me to plane to America to live.

It has been 200 days since he take me away, he said “it was best for me to be closer to him.” Who was it better for I tried to ask him, but he keep pretending not to hear. He does not look in my eyes now.

We lived in our little town in China so happy,  but I was so weak, so sad that when my wife, Soon-Li  passed away, mother of our son, that I could not think anymore. I just needed time, I needed time for my sorrow to settle inside me. That is what I needed but he won’t listen.

My son came from America too fast, too fast. I was still very sad, I needed more time to be with my friends who are my people. They understood, we were all together every day, every night. Now my half was gone.  I know. It happens to all of us someday.The hurt in my body would leave but not the love.

I also worked on a fishing boat since I was a boy, It was my job since I was six to catch fish with my hands, for the family. Well, you see my hands now, so many years of work building huts from trees, fishing, I work every day. As I got older, I got better. I learned that with experience. Everyone needs to learn that in their own time.

My son and his wife bring me to America so they can “help” me, watch me, but it is my heart they took out. I want to be in my country, to be with my people who understand me, who have grown up with me. I know they love me here but love talks in many languages. I love my grandson they call “Sam” an American name. My sadness will be missing my grandson but he knows I want to go home. He loves me that much to help me now. That is pure love, white love.

The lights are too bright here, everything is rush rush and too loud. I do not like this. In my world I was a healer. People came to me for my help, now I meditate alone and ask to be listened to, to be back in my country, to die in my bed.

My grandson is a man now, he bought me a ticket, he will take me to airport, we go now to tell his parents, it is my word, the elder’s word that we listen to, as it should be.”

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FWF Kellie Elmore

“We don’t read and write poetry because it’s cute. We read and write poetry because we are members of the human race. And the human race is filled with passion. And medicine, law, business, engineering – these are noble pursuits and necessary to sustain life. But poetry, beauty, romance, love – these are what we stay alive for. To quote from Whitman, “O me, O life of the questions of these recurring. Of the endless trains of the faithless. Of cities filled with the foolish. What good amid these, O me, O life? Answer: that you are here. That life exists and identity. That the powerful play goes on, and you may contribute a verse. What will your verse be?

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APPLE COMMERCIAL NUMBER 2: FWF

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The Word Love

Now that I am old  and very alone I bought one  place setting of  five different sets of china. I  use them as my everyday dishes because there is nothing to wait for at my age of ninety-three. We never had good china when I was younger and so I bought it for myself. To live another day and wake up in the morning is an occassion. I have no rules now, I  sleep all day if I want to, in my  comfortable old bed that has shaped around my body like clay. I have an old, worn blanket that used to be pink but now it is a little pink and a little gray from age.

I stopped looking at clocks because time does not matter now. If I am hungry, I eat. Sometimes I don’t remember if I ate lunch or breakfast. The phone rings and I try to pick it up but the buttons and numbers confuse me. I don’t always like to answer the phone but I do most times. If I don’t answer  it will ring again and again with loud noises that do not stop.

If it is sunny I will sit on my front porch that is painted white. The porch swing barely moves anymore but I like that. Sometimes I sit outside and watch the people on the street. I drink my apple juice there and when the sun hits the glass I can see rainbows sometimes, I always liked rainbows.

The days don’t feel very long at all now. There are days that melt into each other like chocolate pudding. My daughter always liked chocolate the best as did my late husband but I like vanilla. Vanilla is smooth and light and sweet; my son likes vanilla better too. When I was young I used to call myself “The Vanilla Girl.”

I would not say I am a happy person but I am not sad; I am still.  I am like a painting that hangs on the wall.  Life without my husband is not a life that I can get used to. I speak to him all the time and I answer for him too. Many things I say, I say out loud.  Nobody is here to tell me not to.

Today I got dressed and I wore a blouse the color of a rose; it has a few stains on it but I don’t mind. My knarled, old feet are always barefoot and I remember walking on the beach with my family many years ago and how my toes loved the sand. I wear only clothes that are big on me because I never liked things that were tight. Sometimes I wear a nightgown all day long that my great grand-daughter sent me. It is my favorite thing to wear because it has yellow and blue flowers all over it and because it is from her. Who could have imagined me alive long enough that I would be a great grandmother. It isn’t the same since Grandpa passed on.

Nobody seems to understand. When my children visit  they say I should be “happy” and I  try. They don’t know how it feels when they leave. I love the visits from my family once in awhile but I feel the pain of missing Grandpa worse. There is a sharper pain and it takes a long time for it to go away; it is different from the pains and aches that I have all the time.  I get sad and then later on I feel better because I am alone and I don’t have to smile if I don’t want to.

Later I will watch television from my bed. I never turn the television off. I like to have some noise in the background to keep me company. At first the kids didn’t  want me to live here alone but this is my home and so I will die here too;  surrounded by all my photographs.

I will eat something when I want  like cheese and the inside of the bread that I used to call “cotton” when I was a young girl. I will spread that with butter that is not cold or warm but  comes in a tub; I don’t need to have four sticks of hard butter. I haven’t baked banana bread for many years now.

I am not a mean woman but I am not a kind one either. I am really nothing but I was somebody once. I was a wife to my beloved husband and a mother to our two children; we first had a boy and then we had a girl. Everyone used to say “it was the best of both worlds” and yes, that is really what it was. When I go to sleep I will try to remember a memory but they come and go and then I forget what I was thinking about. That is alright, because that is what happens.

When I wake up in the morning, I will say hello to my dogs and they will kiss my face, and I will drink Ovaltine in a my very favorite mug that has hearts and the word LOVE written on it. I will go on with the day again, and I will sit outside with my dogs and just be.