Finally went back to Chico's to return my ridiculous $110 faux leather jacket w/no pockets. I'd worn it once, then threw it on the couch in disgust. "How can you buy anything so ridiculous?" I said out loud. Linda gave me a store credit.
Nearby is the assisted living complex Rydal Park in Jenkintown, PA. Or is it Abington? I went over to visit my friend Betty. Had some questions to ask her about two mental health advocates who recently died. Their main concern is: what'll happen to my mentally ill children when I die?
Betty and I sat down to dinner. I brought my own from Whole Foods and she got hers from the cafeteria. Ooh, just the word 'cafeteria' makes me hungry and think of pie. I do love pie. Apple, peach, blubbery.
Then I asked if I could use her indoor pool. Most assisted livings have these nowadays. Her pool is among my favorite. We walked over to the locker room where I changed into my new blue and white suit, we signed in so if they found our decomposed bodies they'd know who we were, and then we went into the warm pool room at twilight.
Betty sat and guarded my contact lenses which I put in her Pyrex bowl cuz I forget my case, while I climbed down the blue stairs of the pool and began my laps. Swimming is my favorite sport, other than eating.
On our way out, Betty said hello to lots of residents, including Bertie. I was hoping Betty would tell me how old Bertie was cuz she looked way older than anybody I'd ever seen. Petite with puffy white hair, she looked like a gust of autumn wind could knock her off her feet. She held onto a walker and her big blue eyes peered out of thick glasses.
I asked her if she was in good health and she said yes except her eyes were going and she'd get an operation in the spring.
"Bertie just turned 100 in July," Betty said.
We stood in the hallway admiring paintings that residents had made. Bertie praised two of Betty's watercolors including one of Abington Presbyterian Church which is where our support group meets.
I like being around old people b/c they remind me of my own mortality and that I need to do things NOW while I'm still in the prime of life. Rydal Park boasts very distinguished individuals who used to be somebodies when they were out and about.
Isn't it amazing what happens to us when we get old? Lemme go look in the mirror. Hold on.
I saw a woman with all white hair staring back at me w/ reading glasses on the top of her head. I have no idea who she was.
As for me, my writing group meets in half an hour. Under necessary deadline pressure, I'm finally writing the poem I named "1921: The Birth of a Son." I'll fork out some cottage cheese and homemade applesauce now which should give me courage to face my poem again. To get into a poem-writing mood I goggled my favorite poem At the Fishhouses and found a new poem Divers in the Wreck, a spectacular poem by the fascinating 80-year-old Adrienne Rich, mother of 3 sons, who lives with her female lover in California.
I wonder what will become of me?
1921: BIRTH OF A SON
in memory of my father
coming down the snug dark passageway
I anticipate nothing
the smell strikes first
so different from anything I have known
the snuffling of my small jewish nose
that later will grow like a crown
to bring me the women of my desires
and now the cold turns my lips blue
as I am touched for the first time with
feelers across what I’m learning is me
a new man shining with light
were I still alive
I’d haunt the streets in our town
eighty-eight years old
peering through thick glasses
at the cities made without my consent
where is my importance?
I kissed my mother goodbye
when she left this kingdom of sorrows behind
I would have flown to her side
left the beds of women I loved
to be with Mama one last time
and arrived to stroke her soft rouged cheek
and caterpillar eyebrows
the hospital room was warm
glowing with sunshine
the two of us together once more
as I imagined my life without mother
strange frightened mama
whose soul roamed free in
the Carpathians she left behind.
mortality is mine.
how I fought my death sentence
no appeals allowed
when cancer struck
nine months in bed
moving closer to the womb
my glasses gathering dust
somewhere in the room
as attendants entered to bathe
and amuse me
a little clapping to show my approval
moving closer to the womb
eyes closed during the day
remembering the oceans of comfort
and unnamed bliss
that beckoned with
not even needing to say
wait for me
I shall be there.
- Ruth Z Deming