I remember nights spent in your bed. Lea and I would wiggle into the middle of it. She would rub Poppa’s head with a paper towel and I would massage your feet with Kerri lotion. I always chose you.
In Kindergarten, I was noticeably changed when you left for Florida in the middle of the night. Papoo was going to die. You had to go. You were gone for a week, and I became unsociable. Blocks became solitary. When I played hide and seek, I didn’t want to be found.
You drove me to acting classes and swim meets at the college when I was in middle school. Art classes, piano, ice-skating, more drama classes, and always with the swimming. When I stood solid on the starting block, you cheered the loudest. I can hear you even now.
told you I needed more aerobic activity, and you corrected me and said what I needed was a good hard run, Anaerobic activity.
So we made a bet. And I knew I was right. I even said, “Think about it. Aerobic– you take in air. Anaerobic is more like golf.” You wouldn’t listen to any of it, so I lugged the enormous medical dictionary up four flights of stairs to prove it to you in writing. It was heavy and falling apart, and it hurt my fingers. Every second of it was worth it. When I finally brought it upstairs and found the definition, I wouldn’t read it out loud. I just pointed to it hard with my red marked finger, and said, “Here, read it. Read it for yourself.” And as you read it, I took pleasure at seeing you redden. I wanted that moment to be preserved. I wanted to capture it somehow and put it beneath glass like a museum artifact. You stood there and swallowed, pushed back your cuticles, and said nothing. At that moment, I knew that I had the power to make you cry. And, I’m so sorry. Sorry for taking out all my hate of me on you. Mom, I love you so much.
I am more like you than I care to admit. I don’t want to grow old alone either. I love cooking, taking care of people, laughing, good wine, dancing. God, dancing. I remember George was in New York “thinking.” I was with you and Aunt Iris, Fey, Vanessa, Damien, Nicholas, and Lea at Yiya’s house. You put on the Spanish music. You all started shuffling. I still don’t know what the dance is called, and no doubt I did it all wrong, cause I’ve got no rhythm, even when I let go and just listen. But you had me laughing, you kept me in the moment, made me realize I have happiness in there, in my soul… I just have to let go to find it. Thank you so much for those lessons you taught without ever having to teach. I love you so much.