Ourselves, of Course from Issue 51
She blamed him. He, of course, blamed her. They sat at opposite ends of the sofa, each refuting the other’s claim. My mother thrashed her section of the newspaper
“Quit it,” she ordered.
“I have nothing to quit,” my father said. “I turned the page.”
“You don’t have to shake the whole sofa.”
“No,” he said, “I don’t.”
They paused for a moment and retreated, both puzzled by such obstinate lies.
This argument aside, it has been a good morning. It was the day of my conception.
“We hadn’t been to bed, I mean bed, for weeks,” my mother said. This was how she told the story, for years, to any willing listener. “We didn’t have the time,” she said. “We were pooped.”
The war was over. My father was in school, with one more year. My mother worked in a department store, selling furniture to wives whose husbands could afford it.
“The older fellows,” she said, “returned to jobs, but the younger ones, like your dad, had to start from scratch.”
My father, in his forties, fifties, and even sixties, did his best to look boyish. It was his part. He’d tilt his head and display a grin that looked more like a grimace.
This was all the cheer he could muster.
I thought of him this way for years, but when she dies, he lost his shrug and chuckle. His silent pattern vanished. T had no place without her words to frame it.
He didn’t seem to notice.
One day followed the next. Another came after that.
My sister and I took after his example. It was as if our mother had gone out of town and we had plenty to do. We followed the routine my father had learned.
He attended funerals fairly often. He’d come to that age.
Jill and i are approaching it. Her best friend from high school had a breast removed in April, and at my physical my doctor has decided it’s time to wiggle his finger up my rectum.
I attended my twenty-fifth high school reunion. The thirtieth hasn’t even been scheduled.