this chapter seems apropos as it's a glorious Sunday. Enjoy, my little blades! And yes... those pictures are me. Love... Always.
Wings on their backs
I remember her being exhausted, a lump in the bed. And our neighbors coming to the house, one by one with casseroles -- a word I now only associate with small town churches, with vacuum cleaners ready to vacuum up our fears along with the dust, sometimes they just came to sit by her bed and talk to her. Maybe tell her inane, little stories as refreshing as ice cubes in your Coke when you’re sick and things are unbearably heavy. Our church had a prayer chain and a chain for caring for others who were sick. And whatever bad can be said about religion and churches and gossip and small towns – these people had wings on their backs, I swear.
Of course, our church was as flawed as the next. Our minister cheated on his wife with a woman called Angel Face. Well, I called her that because I was about seven when it happened and my names were purely visual. Angel face wore flowery, feminine, kind of Gunney Sac dresses and she had blond, flowing hair that framed her little face. She was married to Abe Lincoln, and our minister was staying with them while he and his wife separated. When his wife found out that he’d been cheating, she pounced on the wrong woman while church was in session. We actually heard a cat fight, while her philandering husband was in the pulpit delivering a sermon on forgiveness, of all things. She apparently beat up Mrs. Lindberg all around her breasts. Trying to beat the sex out of her, I guess. Too bad she had the wrong woman – who knows if Mrs. Lindberg ever had “the sex” in her to begin with? Now, she had the bruises. For obvious reasons, I took to calling our Presbyterian place of worship, As The Church Turns.
But boy, did they turn to the face of God when it came to my mom. They came – like the Who’s down in Whoville. They sang with her and cooked and baked and vacuumed and drove and ran errands for her. They watched movies with her and played songs on the banjo for her and careened around her and prayed for her and she lay there like a princess with a big scar writhing up her stomach that was no longer there. And a princess she was – for all her courage and beauty and for the kingdom that needed her so desperately. We all looked into their bedroom with the greatest of hopes and when she smiled back, it felt like the world was grinning with her. At that moment, our nerves ceased and our breathing went back to normal. She would live. Everything was hopeful. When she felt badly, when she needed a neck rub or when she was nauseous or when her hair started to fall out, when she had diarrhea or when she threw up or when she had gas and the room was unbearable, we felt her days were ticking. A clock we could not stop. We’d try to put her back together again. Stop time. Halt the sickness. Freeze the moment. Make her eternal.