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I'm so tired I can barely think to write.

After getting up the past two days at 2:30 a.m. and getting to work by 3:30, my arms and legs ache from exhaustion. I hope you will forgive me for "cheating" and sending, instead of another contemplation of life...as it goes, an excerpt from a yet-to-be-published memoir. The title of which is of no consequence until it's published. But if you must have a title we can call it Memoir2.

The image of nuns in bumper cars has a special spot in my heart. This image was on a card I gave to Bob along with a dozen roses after we spent a particularly perfect, yet bumpy boat ride on our first date.


The inside read: Even good girls need a wild ride every now and again.


MEMOIR2


“All time is all time. It does not change. It does not lend itself to warnings or explanations. It simply is. Take it moment by moment, and you will find that we are all, as I've said before, bugs in amber.” -Kurt Vonnegut, Slaughterhouse-Five

 

PROLOGUE 

The past, the present and the future walk into a bar. It was tense.

OUT OF THE BLUE

That’s what we say about the unexpected:

“It was out of the blue when he filed for divorce.”

“It came out of the blue that he kissed me.”

“It happened out of the blue, getting COVID. On his seventy-sixth birthday, no less.”

 

“A blue cow fell from the sky. He was so thirsty and drank from a small pool of water near where I was standing.”

The Hubby, half-naked, laughs when I describe my dream. He giggles when I catheterize him and when he wipes his nose with his right index finger. The Hubby is all about happiness, all about giggles.

The Wife trips over a sunbeam on her way back down to the kitchen.

WHERE ARE WE GOING?

This is a tale about an aging woman named Snuffy Cod. Snuffy works diligently, self-talking. “The F-word is bad. The F-word is bad.” She tries daily to stop using this word. Because it’s a bad effing word.

Okay, sure. Snuffy Cod is me. I am her. And I’m not that old. Neither is she. Although, honestly, I’m thrilled about getting my Medicare card.

Often wisdom comes with age and is not easily won.

Snuffy sometimes speaks about herself as me, first person. Sometimes we slip into second person as needed. You’ll follow. It’s not some difficult technical journal on fractals. It’s just a story.

Sometimes Snuffy tells the tale in third person. She doesn’t want you confused. It’s not a confusing story. Just a story about a time in Snuffy’s life—my life, her life, possibly your life—spent with a man who was/is dying, will die.

“I know. I know. I can hear it now,” Snuffy says. “All the people groaning, ‘Not another husband dying on the wife story!’”

Yes. Another one. But one that will test the parameters of the time and space as well as any time-space continuum.

So, hang on.


GOING NOWHERE

We need that damn time machine Science Fiction promised us forty-some-odd years ago. Probably longer. Well, yeah. Since H.G. Wells. Longer. Much longer.

 

The end of this story sucks. Sucks in that someone dies. Maybe. Maybe they don’t and instead they’re simply whisked away like when Elijah was spotted walking with God and was never seen again.

 

A note passed between classmates: Snuffy Cod wants to marry Kilgore Trout!

 

The Wife tiptoes onto foot-sized islands of grass to the barn-style chicken coop. Winter puddles shock her feet. She wears sandals without socks. The sandals are rubber and have destroyed the bottoms of her feet—made horse hooves out of her soles—but the shoes are comfortable and make her taller. Horse hooves are a small cost when it comes to comfort and two inches taller than her barefooted self.

The snow has melted. Under its weight, snow now buckled the tarp covering the chicken run. It’s Snuffy’s fault. My fault. Snuffy blames herself—myself. She didn’t remove the tarp. Or was it me? Let’s blame it on Snuffy.

Now, the run outside the barn looks like the shabbiest of homeless encampments ever. She expects to find homeless people living there one day with the chickens. The homeless people won’t mind the straw or feathers. Heaters make it warm inside. Heaters for the chickens and soon, homeless people. It’s a nice homeless encampment. Better than any you’ll find under the freeway in Seattle. Is that insensitive? Maybe. But the truth can seem cruel.

Shame on me.

 

“Think before you speak!” Dad yelled—for what, I don’t know. I can’t remember fifty years to back then. He explained how I shouldn’t always say exactly what’s on my mind every second of the day. This coming from Dad. Mr. I Have No Filters. Mr. Funny Man.

Whatever.

Later, he would proclaim, “You’re the epitome! The pit of me. Get it?”

Uh, yeah, Dad. It’s lame, but I get it.

Today, people call it filtering. You know. Controlling what you say. That pausing we do, or should do, before speaking. I question the concept because if we are to enjoy life fully, we must live life the way we find most natural for our psychological makeup. Do we not?

I don’t know. Maybe not. I’m brainstorming here.

And yes. We can have a whole other discussion about narcissists and sociopaths, but for now, let’s concentrate on nonpathological personality traits.

 

Snuffy’s an Old Hippie now. One of the clerks called told her she was and gave her an Old Hippie discount at the pot shop. She walked out feeling groovy.

 

I’m a hippie. I’m eleven. It’s 1969. I wear huaraches and cutoff shorts and sing protest songs at the top of my lungs. My mother explains to me that singing doesn’t always have to be loud.

Later in my fifties, with Dad being dead twenty years before, my mom confessed to me, “I always wondered what was wrong with you.”

Why, gee, Ma. Thanks.

Mom had Alzheimer’s and was on a fast path to boarding her own time machine.

 

Today, there are starships. Things someone dreamed up in fiction past about reality future.

Snuffy lives in Science Fiction Land. I want to run away with Snuffy. But she tells me no. She’s off to meet Kilgore.

Why not dream of time machines? Dream that they exist.

“We’re still working on specifics, Ms. Cod. The engineering, the time stops. Forward and backward. Cellular disintegration. These sorts of things. We still need to figure out a few nagging details, but we’ll get there. We got to starships, didn’t we?” Dr. Who Knows? says.

 

The past? Filled with nuns in bumper cars and roses for the soon-to-be hubby for the boat ride to Port Townsend. Filled with crème brulee and champagne, dancing, and being dipped alone on a dance floor with a band playing music for just the two of you. Past is romance.

 

Caregivers learn how to walk backwards well. Like backing up in a car, walking backwards doesn’t turn back the odometer, doesn’t make you younger or get you back to where you were happy.

The Hubby hangs on tight to my arm. The Hubby and The Wife live in the land of sameness. Every day is the same. Every step. Every hour. Nine in the morning, walk hubby to pee—you backwards—brush teeth, some days a shower, always meds twice daily, breakfast. Noon, lunch, poop— try to poop, honey. Three in the afternoon, walk The Hubby to pee—you backwards—The Hubby with a vice grip and a series of stodgy steps.

A peanut butter cookie.

Sips of water.

Six in the evening, dinner, meds again. Nine at night, walk The Hubby to pee—you backwards—and a pillow-head sandwich. Nighty-night.

“I love you, Hubby,” says The Wife.

Say you love me back. Please. Say you love me...

Nothing. Not anymore.

Primary progressive aphasia from frontotemporal lobe dementia has swept all his words into a corner waste bin of gray matter up near his left temple.

Snuffy’s heart aches.

Please. Speak. Say, “I love you too, Wifey.”

No. No more of that. Only yes and no other words now. Only grunts and squeaks.

I pray he dies in his sleep. “I love you. Please die in your sleep.”

No struggles. No pain. No fear. Please, God. No fear.

News all day long. The Hubby, like his mom, watches news morning, noon, and night. Local news. National news. The nation’s global fiasco horror show.

 

“We’re watching Law & Order now,” Snuffy says.

It sounds more like an order than a suggestion.

The Hubby giggles.

 

The Hubby’s back crimps forward. His face parallel to the floor, The Hubby is the human equivalent of a question mark.

It was only two and a half years ago when we went for our last walk, during COVID on a rarely-traveled, wide path by the airport—twelve feet of wide pavement.

We refused to wear face masks. Not that we refused to do so anyplace else but in the open, but on that final walk, we braved COVID and quailed under sneers from a group of three masked-up women passing us in the opposite direction.

“They don’t like us,” I said.

By then, The Hubby wasn’t talking much, but he said, “Too bad.”

 

I walk him to the bathroom—the toilet, the shower, the sink. Only eight months ago he came downstairs, fourteen steps, one step at a time. Careful. Careful. Now, the stairs scare him. Weak knees, you see.

 

Zipline to future. Snuffy yearns for what I think of as normal, a tomorrowland of normal, but at the same time, Snuffy dreads it. If only The Hubby’s condition were reversible. An old coat with flannel on the inside, satin outside. Flip it around. Voila! A new coat. Different, but the same.

Zip to past. Our first kiss.

Zip to future again. First thing we’d do if time reversed? Kiss. Second thing? We’d say, “Hello! I missed you.” And sit at a candlelit kitchen table for hours and talk. Apologize for things we couldn’t say, or did say, or things we did or did not do. Next day, take a nice long walk by the water. The day after? The world’s the limit. We have tomorrowland together. Why worry about what to do. A new future, one where The Hubby can talk and walk—fully functional—with a new body, a new brain. Maybe he would make his awful salsa soup for me again, and this time—this time, I’d eat it with abandon.


THIS IS THE END OF THE EXCERPT


Have a beautiful weekend. Here's what guides me into tomorrow and the next day and the day after that...


22 But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, longsuffering, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, 23 gentleness, self-control. Against such there is no law. ~Galatians 5

God bless you all.

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