Saturday, April 2, 2011
Isn't every kitchen yellow? And doesn't everyone have a radio sitting on that room's version of a mantle? It was there like clockwork, like whatever saying explains reliability. The day began and ended with that leather box. KRLC 1350 and coffee, call-in classifieds while sitting around the table eating weekday Shredded Wheat and toast more butter than bread or weekend feasts of meat and eggs served sunny side up and dark with the grease she cooked them in.We were unapologetically country. She whistled mainly, but occasionally I heard the rasp of her voice working its way over a choice line. Hank and Waylon and Willie offered advice for living, and I took it. You can't be a daddy's girl with no daddy, but thankfully there was always grandma and the country. Then cancer and its own gravel roads: radiation with its tattoo scars and peeled skin, the pain pump, hospice and that final January day. I'm not sure if music was playing when I cooked the food she couldn't eat. Grease was its own medicine we'd pretend and she'd move it around on the plate as if spreading it out was taking it into her body. There was no sound at all those nights I watched as she moved her lips, speaking to no one I could see. When she could no longer drink, I learned to wet her tongue with the sponges they gave me which reminded me of childhood lollipops. There was no soundtrack then, only my dog sleeping beneath her bed and crying coming from other rooms. I can remember when I thought it morbid that she had it all planned out: flying over the farm, my uncle and her friend tend to her land once more in this different way. But things don't always go as planned. Sometimes young die before old, friendships grow cold, and a plane becomes a hand. Sky becomes the distance from hip to winter-killed grass. What songs were humming through my head then, holding ashes with more bone than I'd imagined? What songs were echoing through a house being emptied of all she'd ever owned? What songs were contained in that tough leather that I took when told I could pick 3 things to remember her by?