The Dialogue

“Bread and Water can so easily be Toast and Tea”
~Author Unknown~

Kate brought us back colds from Denver.  I am hoping Minneapolis will not be as generous.  It is our custom to share our morning coffee in the living room – to the chairs!  We sit, sip, and speak.  It is one of my favorite parts of the day.  The ritual is repeated in the evening, though with tea, a shared apple, and a few pieces of Manchego cheese and nuts.  Kate is gone, and will be gone a lot now in her new position.  When she is not home, I take my morning coffee with my computer.  I read the news, check email, and look at Facebook.

This morning, with my cold in tow, I woke up to find my Mother in the same state of sleepiness as me.  I made her coffee and took it to her room, along with a banana, a piece of cheese, and a few pieces of anisette toast, her absolute favorite.  As I prepare her tray, I also work on making my own coffee – my Cuban coffee, a very strong espresso, cut with scalding half and half.  I too want anisette toast, which is certainly not overly flavorable, but for as long as I can remember it has been my Mother’s special treat.  I take my Mother her tray, and come back to finish preparing my coffee.  Instinctually, I head toward my desk; but before sitting down, I turn right and head for her bedroom.  I will have my coffee and anisette toast with my Mother, while she has her coffee and anisette toast.

I can instantly tell that she is happy I have sat down in her room, and she begins to speak.  Our conversation begins with the news.  We speak of the tragedy in Tucson and comment on how anyone could kill a nine year old child.  We then begin to speak of how hard it is to understand life and death.  I say little, as she begins to talk.  She says it is hard to reflect on all of the people who she knows which have died in the last few years.  My Mother is 79 and at the age where the death of friends and family starts to become inevitable.  She goes through the list of people, starting with Brother and Sister Becerra, Tursa, Helen, Bill and Joan, Kitty, David and Roxanne.  I feel the weight of her sorrow, and can barely stand to hear the list.  I have been thinking a lot lately about my last conversation with Donna, regarding my Aunt Roxanne, and too well understand my Mother’s grief.  But the list turns to my Father; whose has now been dead since 1986, which leads her to Cuba.

Suddenly, her voice changes and instead of reminiscing about her family and Ohio, she begins to talk about the life she led.  She mentions that one would certainly do things differently if they knew how life would turn out; I ask what she would do differently?  She says she would have had at least six children, and then comments that she never thought she had enough money to raise a bigger family.  She starts to talk about bathing Joy, my sister, in the ocean, when they lived in Santiago de Cuba.  My Mother comments on the fact that she never learned to swim, but that Joy loved the ocean, I have heard this story before.  But she continues to tell me about a little boy, who for five cents would row her out in the bay, to a small island, where she would shop for groceries.  I have not heard this story.  She says that once she was sitting in the boat, there would only be inches separating her from the sea, but she loved it.  While she shopped, the boy waited in the boat, and he would then row her back to the shore.  I can see this woman, I understand her.  There is so much about my Mother which I cannot understand or relate to; but this woman bathing her child in the ocean and then going to market, in a boat – her I know.  I can feel that woman.

She continues speaking and tells me of having fallen in love with a doctor in Cuba.  This is news to me.  I ask more about him, and she tells me that he never knew she was alive.  She offers that the strongest attraction was that he was doctor; but it is not what one would expect from a woman in the 1950’s.  Her interest in the doctor was the medicine, she comments about the work and how fascinating that would have been.  I understand that too.  She continues to speak of Cuba, as we drink our coffee and eat our anisette toast, the phone rings and I answer it without thinking, assuming it is Kate.

It is Nabil, who has called from Kuwait to wish us a Happy New Year.  It is nice to hear his voice, he is always so thoughtful.  We chat for a few minutes, and say good-by.  My Mother gets up, and the flow of our dialogue has changed.  She goes to the Florida room, and I to my desk.  The classical music, which we both enjoy, continues to play, courtesy of NPR, but the moment has changed.  I admit that I have never been more exhausted than am now; there are real challenges in the caring of an aging soul, but suddenly however, I am looking forward to tomorrow’s coffee.  That is all for now.

One Response to The Dialogue

  1. ThatIsAllForNow on January 3, 2013 at 1:09 am

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