No Tears

Father always said: “There’s nothing to be concerned about.” When I fell off my bike and scraped my knee: “Nothing to be concerned about. It will heal.” When I drove my car into the back of a dump truck: “Nothing to be concerned about. We won’t tell Mom.” When I over drew my checking account: “Nothing to be concerned about. I’ll cover it.” When Grandmother died: “Nothing to be concerned about. She was ready.” When he called to say goodbye for the last time: “Nothing to be concerned about. No tears now.”

My mother was a woman of her time, who smoked cigarettes and drank martinis her entire life, leaving a trail of ashes, burn holes and broken glass strewn behind her in the wake of years. Counter tops, antique tables and oriental rugs were branded with black holes like an infestation of beetles. When I found a charred crater the size of a demi-tasse in her mattress, I installed a smoke detector over her bed. She complained: “That thing drives me crazy” and poked it with her cane. “Mother, it’s there to save your life.” “I don’t care. It drives me crazy.”

The smoke detector dangled from the ceiling. She didn’t wake up. The firefighter pulled her from the flames in the middle of the night. She died five days later unable to breath.

Coda: There was something to be concerned about. There were tears

Marguerite Welch 2018