I know my mother needs company, and I know my doctor said it’s time to simplify my responsibilities. But just because AIDS is taking my life away in a few months doesn’t mean it should take my dog away too.
My sister tells me that all I need to do is visit mom in her assisted living home to spend as much time as I want with Garbo. She tells me its a win-win because Mom will get the visit too. She tells me mom needs all the company she can get.
I’m the one who’s weak. I tire easier than Mom. Mom’s taking Tai Chi classes and heading up the gallery committee while I am the sick man melting away with lesions, knitting sweaters for Garbo to keep blood circulation in my fingers. Garbo is the only true friend who always stuck by my side. Garbo doesn’t judge me for my sexual preference. Garbo loves my cooking and proudly wears my sweaters. She shivers in the winter cold. And Dot hates dog clothing. She laughed at Garbo and scolded me for making a doll out of my sweet dog. And I cried every time she stuffed Garbo’s sweaters in the neighbor’s mailbox and yanked little Garbo down the street.
And now what? I’m supposed to pretend I’m OK with Mom depressing and freezing my dog while I lay dying in my loft? My sister thinks this walk in the park is going to make me feel better? Make me forget Garbo? Her hand feels like a shackle, like I’m some criminal. When will I finally realize that life is plain cruel?
Wait! Is that, Mom? Mom? Oh my god. She’s knitting Garbo a sweater! Leave it to Mom to rekindle my faith in humankind. I am so grateful for the park bench. I can barely handle this walk and I’m breaking down with tears. Oh Mom!
Dear God. Please help me through these tough times. My brother has sinned and yes, you serve him this punishment, but I don’t know how much more I can take of this. The burden of helping him is so great. Please God, give me strength and patience. I forget how slowly he walks now. And his hands stay so cold. Only a weak godless man could fall to such a miserable level. It’s like I’m already walking with the dead. And my dear sweet brother is going to Hell. Don’t say that Dot! You’re such a cruel sister. I mean, look at him. He’s pathetic. He already looks so, so, rotten. But I guess that’s the Devil in him.
Why wouldn’t he go to those classes I told him about? He could have been saved. He could have been cured. If only he got his condition fixed before he succumbed to this disgusting gay disease, but no. He allowed the Devil to take him down.
And Mom, God bless her soul, offered to finally take that stupid dog off my hands. What a stupid annoying souless creature! And those ridiculous sweaters he knits for her. If he only knew how I would take the sweaters off and stuff them in the neighbors mailbox when I had to walk that wretched dog. That smelly thing has no idea how lucky she is. If I had it my way she would be dropped off at the shelter already.
Oh my, is that Mom? What does she think she’s doing?! That better not be what I think it is. Dear God, I beg you, give me strength in these trying times! I guess this too shall pass.
Won’t Henry be so happy to hear that I convinced the Resident Manager to let him move into my guest bedroom? I told Dot I absolutely had to have two bedrooms. I always planned that my sweet boy would need me more than anybody else in the end, well, me and Garbo. Aw, she’s not nearly the little rascal Dot complained about. She’s a darling little Shitzu. Who couldn’t love her? And she looks fabulous is red.
I can’t wait to tell him tomorrow. Little Garbo and I have it all planned out. She’s going to wear her new Coco Channel inspired sweater and I will wear that gorgeous hat his fatherr bought me in the 50’s. We’ll stop at Gail’s to pick up his favorite truffles, snag a bottle of Sherry, and surprise him. I already told the nurses and aids what his favorite colors, foods, and music are so they can just be a part of making his life as lovely as possible.
How else do you do it? That sweet man gave his heart out to everyone he knew. He loved so much his body ran out on him. He made life beautiful everywhere he went. You don’t let a man so soft and dear die alone without his mother and his dog.
Why, Henry! Oh Henry! I was just thinking about you! Come here, sweet boy and sit with me. Oh Honey, what is the matter? Come to your Mother, Darling. You’re alright. Everything is going to be just fine sweetheart.
Oh, Dot. Thank you for giving your brother some company today.
Henry, Henry Henry. No need to cry, Honey. Really. Your mother loves you.
Assignment: Write about a woman and man, holding hands in the park, and an old woman sitting on the park bench knitting a small red sweater. And write the story from three perspectives. First the man, then the woman, and finally the old woman’s.