FWF: Kellie Elmore, Word Bank: Blanket

1913 photograph of sisters Edith Taliaferro an...

1913 photograph of sisters Edith Taliaferro and Mabel Taliaferro. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

The Twins

Edith, 88, sat underneath the plaid yellow, blue and red blanket she and her twin sister used to sit under every night after dinner. They both lived in the St. Rourke Hospital For Seniors and shared a room until Martha had fallen ill earlier today. Edith didn’t know what to do with herself. She spoke to no one, she could not eat a bite, she didn’t listen to anything anyone said. Without Martha, she didn’t know what to do with herself, it felt like she was missing parts of herself but didn’t know which ones. She felt confused, her whole body trembled and her lips, smeared with orange lipstick, chattered but they did not form words.

“The Twins” as they were known used to sit in the same green and white patio swing set almost every night as long as it didn’t snow. They sat there in the cold season, huddled together, as well as the warm, they always had something to talk about even when they fussed at each other. They had made no friends at the Hospital For Seniors, they had no interest in that, they had each other and that was enough. Neither of them had married and they didn’t need anyone else.

That very morning the Staff told her Martha was ill but Edith already knew something wasn’t right. She was on her way to their room now to check. She was shaking and needed to stop every few seconds to catch her breath. Martha was ill and Edith tried to get to their room but they had already moved her to the attached hospital.

“Martha, oh Martha” Edith said to her sister who lay limp on the bed, eyes closed, tubes and wires attached everywhere while Edith stroked her creamy white hair. Tears were spilling down her cheeks and Martha had not moved an inch. “She couldn’t speak”, the doctors said “there was no brain function” and that “she was not breathing on her own.” Martha was “brain-dead”, the doctors said and Edith should think about “letting her go that night.” “No, Edith said,” she was too distraught and she wanted one more night with her sister. But yes, she sighed, she would do it in the morning if that was okay. “Of course they said, “very reasonable.” They walked Edith back to her room and offered to give her a sedative to sleep. Edith just shook her had no, back and forth, not saying a word. Edith, with tears streaming down her face sat in their room, wiped her face and waited until she could go back and visit with her sister again. Very quietly, she crept, every few feet to get closer to her beloved sister’s room. No one even noticed her. They knew the heart-breaking decision she would have to make in the morning.

Edith climbed into bed with her sissy, Martha, and wrapped her arms around her like they used to do when they were kids taking a nap. She covered them both with their plaid blanket. In her room she had taken as many pills that she could take and still be able to walk. She must have swallowed sixty of them. She tried to take more from the second bottle of pills but she could barely manage to do that. The twins had, between them, almost 150 pills between them for this reason alone. They did not want to live without each other. Edith tried to take more pills now, but she could only take a handful, the rest scattered on the floor.

In the morning, at seven a.m. while doing rounds, the doctor came in and gasped, there were the sisters,” the twins,” arms around each other, frozen in time, in death. They had never wanted to live a life without each other; they used to say their hearts beat for one another and that their souls understood each other without one simple sound. They had planned this all their lives, now, they were at peace.

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Carry On Tuesday: There is a child in every one of us….

Driving Rain

Driving Rain (Photo credit: pixieclipx)

There is a child in every one of us but I seem to have lost her.What happened to that childish, charming, witty fun-loving woman who wrote a blog that was delicious, and delightful? I’ve become boring: as plain, as unsalted crackers and I don’t care for that one bit. I can imagine you don’t like it either; I can’t say I blame you at all. Where are all my funny, sometimes sarcastic observations of the world? Am I not watching enough television? I know I have not been on the city streets enough to bring eavesdropping to a science lately. It’s the weather, really. My bones hurt. Have I become dull, dim-witted and a (GASP) a real adult?

EEW, I hope not. That doesn’t sound like me at all. I do still get pleasure in little things, throwing a few coins on the floor for children to find, eating green fruit slices but never the cherry ones, (they taste like cough medicine) mashing bananas with plain yogurt and wrapping myself in warm blankets with a stuffed animal near-by.  Something feels different. I don’t think it has anything to do with age, but I feel a lot more grown up now, at 56 than I did two weeks ago when I was still 55. What the heck has happened? Here I am sitting on the bed, waiting for the Super-Duper-Storm-of the Century of 2012 to wipe us all out and all I am doing is sipping a cup of apple-cinnamon tea from my favorite, bright yellow mug. No hysterics, no drama (well, okay a little apprehension, I’m not dead, yet) but there’s really not much I can do. Just have to wait and see what happens and be a good friend and neighbor. Oh dear, just listen to me, now I sound like a life insurance commercial; who stole, cute, child-like me and replaced me with an insurance selling white-haired grandpa with a handsome face and beguiling smile?

Where’ s the fun me, talking about candy, Twix Bars and Kit Kats, and dissing celebrities (Do the Kardashians even COUNT as celebrities? Not in MY book) or being quick-witted and sharp? I blame the cold, dreary weather getting me in this mood. How can I be happy and have fun when I am not at the ocean jumping over waves and picking up seashells with my pink toes in the sand. I’m dowdy now.Perhaps I am forgetting that my mood reacts with the weather every year.

The last two weeks have been hard for our family with my mother in law passing out randomly every day at any time. Perhaps going up there yesterday made us all feel more peaceful, I think it helped. She hasn’t had any fainting episodes in a few days and they needed our support. It’s a big change when your parents need you in the same way we once needed them. It was a lovely visit, even the dog, yes, Lexi, has calmed down (a little.) She’s a lovely dog now but I have to say she was the naughtiest pup ever!

Tonight calls for marshmallows strung together between my thumbs and forefingers for a gooey mess. No, I haven’t lost me, I just got busy, my kids are in college and my husband is a real grown-up, not the one I play. I just have to make more of an effort to be child-like for myself. Tonight, a bubble bath with yellow ducky, playing loud music, maybe a candle or two. I do miss fun. I need to make my own. It’s a little hard to feel upbeat, child-like and happy when every weather forecaster in the nation is practically calling for the downfall of the East Coast cities as we used to know them. Imagine, calling this “The Perfect Storm.” Isn’t that an oxymoron?


The World Just Changes A Little Bit

Burning match (cerilla ardiendo)

Image by John C. Shaw via Flickr

I just received news from my sister that her friend Allison passed away last night. I knew Allison but had only met her once or twice. She was a very warm and charming woman who was my sister’s neighbor. She leaves behind her husband and a daughter, the age of my nephew, Jon, 21. She died of breast cancer.

I have a friend that lives around the corner who is also dying of cancer. She too had breast cancer and then brain cancer. We don’t ask questions, they are a very private family. No matter what her condition is she tries to attend, her children’s basketball games or important events. She doesn’t care about being seen in a wheelchair or weighing barely 90 pounds or the fact that her mouth dragged down and over to the side, why should she? She is one of the best moms I have ever met. She will be with her three children as long as a single breath is left in her body.

Two years ago, when she was still able to walk, unassisted, my neighbor and I would each run to our windows to keep track of her. If we saw her walking alone, one of us would crush our feet into sneakers and pretend that we had walked too, and join her to keep her company. She wouldn’t ask for help, but we knew that we couldn’t let our friend walk unsteadily alone. She refused to use a cane; but she was happy for the company; we were happy to see her.

If we made “extra” food for our families, we would simply drop platters of freshly roasted chicken, baked ziti and meatballs at her door with a loaf of warm french bread or a tray of fudge brownies. When she could only drink liquids my new specialties became soup; peach soup in the summer, chicken soup in the fall. They never asked for meals but they always welcomed it. We would call before we brought a meal over and ask if it was a convenient time; sometimes we left it on the wooden bench near the door. We never saw our friend on these visits; we didn’t have to.

My best friend from high school, Paula, had breast cancer and finally now, after about 6 or more hospitalizations, a double mastectomy, chemotherapy and radiation, infections and reconstructive surgery, she is trying to heal. It has been a long road for her. Another friend, Margie, with thyroid cancer, said she doesn’t think about celebrating her five-year anniversary of being cancer free; her oncologist at Memorial Sloan Kettering said that “once you have cancer, you are never cancer free.” I don’t want to believe that but it is sobering.

I am sorry for my friends, I worry in advance for all the important women in my life. I am grateful for every healthy minute of our lives, and I understand how fragile and unpredictable life is. I am incredibly grateful. The world changes a bit, doesn’t it, when another person dies, when a soul leaves the body. It’s like a candle or a match, one after another, forcibly being blown out while it is still burning bright. It seems that their lives are extinguished way too early, too violently and too harshly. Snuffed, taken away, burnt, dead. “I knew she was going to die” my sister said sadly to me” but somehow it isn’t the same until it really happens.”

Dedicated to all cancer survivors and those we lost who live on in our hearts.