Theme Fridays: Cigarette

Dr. Dawn called with More Bad News and July froze us over.  We took ourselves outside and sat under a cold sun drinking coffee– Mom in sickness, I in health.

Soon the sisters would arrive, mine and hers, and there would be more of us to prop ourselves against when the rest of the bad news broke, but right then it was just us with our coffees and a winter’s chill in summer.

We sat outside talking, warming in each other’s company, and watching the birds at the feeder.  They were loud and lively in their pecking, and didn’t yet know she wouldn’t be around to feed them in a week or two.

After a time, she said, “Well, kid, if I’m on the way out, I don’t see why we couldn’t go get a breaded tenderloin.”

I didn’t see why, either.

We drove up to the East End.  I wheeled her up to the communal table and took a seat across from her.  Mom’d been following a strict arthritis regimen for the past year or so, and breaded tenderloins were not on the menu.  I don’t know when she’d had one last.   We placed our order and got our sandwiches, but the pain meds had kicked in and Mom couldn’t eat a single bite.  We left there with nothing in our bellies but Dr. Dawn’s news, which sat heavy and hard in our centers.

I helped her into the car and she asked what I thought about her having a cigarette, seeing as how things were.  She’d given them up after the stroke three months before, the stroke from which she had fully recovered, and that made More Bad News particularly hard to swallow.

I thought it sounded fine.

We drove to Casey’s for the smokes.  She said get the cheap ones, kid, and I said huh uh.  I asked if she could smoke any brand she wanted what it would be, and she reckoned she’d have the Pall Malls.  I wondered if she’d had a Pall Mall or a Winston in the 30 years since we’d lived on the hill– back in the days when working people could afford to smoke their brands, and no one bought generic.

I got the cigs and a couple of coffees.  She put the pack in her purse and we drove back home and took our places outside with the birds again.   I opened up the smokes and set them, along with a lighter, beside the coffee next to her chair.  She took a drink and replaced the cup.  She took out a cigarette, picked up the lighter, and fell asleep with the unlit Pall Mall in one hand and the Bic in the other.

She would waken in awhile to light the cigarette and finish her coffee, and we would sit and watch the birds awhile longer.   Her last tenderloin had already been eaten, but I didn’t know that then as I sat beside her sleeping self and watched the rise and fall of a chest whose rises and falls were numbered now.

Christine and Annie take on Cigarette.

13 Responses to “Theme Fridays: Cigarette”

  1. Linda Says:

    You took me there with this. Sights, sounds, voice tones, the realization. It’s palpable.

  2. Karen Says:

    Your words bring me there to that time and place and that special bond that exists between mother and daughter. Beautifully written.

  3. You have such a way with words ! Puts me right there with you ! I can see you and your mom sittin there just as calm and collective as usual….She would have been so proud of this…. your writing…. Great Job !

    • clancyjane Says:

      Thanks for saying that she’d be proud. Seems like you were right there, Pam. You helped us so much– with Dad, with Mom’s new apartment– forever thankful for that. 🙂

  4. Patti Says:

    I’m sorry you had to bear it with her alone! But I’m so thankful we have you and the others and your words….I see the “face” on the tree, the squirrel in the bird feeder, Buggy scratching through the dirt, as I remember. Sir, keep me in tune with your words!

  5. Susan Carver Williams Says:

    Wow … I could hardly breathe. I was WITH YOU, feeling what you felt, seeing what you saw. Excellent!

  6. […] clancyjane writes about cigarettes here-  […]

  7. This is very well written, and though I was not there, I was there. I felt like I was you, sitting there, watching Mother D.

    Beautiful job.

    I recently finished a collection of writings called Girls Like Us, and in the foreword, the author mentions a quote by Raymond Carver- ‘Why don’t you just tell what really happened?’ I feel you’ve done that here. It reads honestly and is very poignant for it.

  8. Hey Clancy,
    I think it’s the quiet, ordinary moments we remember best. The details are alive and spark something deep and human. It was kind of you to share such a precious moment with us.
    Annie

  9. Anonymouse Says:

    I can’t even think what to say. Which is a compliment.
    Here:
    I’m glad to get saddened; not easy to finesse,but you manage beautifully

  10. Julia Says:

    Wow. That strange and peaceful surrender to death, and the interesting way that love overtakes the pain.

  11. Gwen, a wonder and gift to read your words.

  12. clancyjane Says:

    Thank you, everybody. 🙂

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