Monday, February 18, 2013

The most important weigh in...

More calories. Please!   Never have I written about this before. I doubt that I could have imagined it although I’ve read Tuesdays With Morey.

It brought to mind a collection of poems I wrote not long after finding I had colon cancer. That collection, Near Death, was reviewed by one of my favorite relatives, my Mom’s erudite first cousin. Although I wasn’t sure I should have asked for her opinion about what could have been regarded as an unpleasant read, I did.

More than anything else, I appreciated her candor. “When you get to be our age,” she said, as if guided by a wisdom I might have only glimpsed, “as old as your Mom and Dad and me, you have to have made peace with death.” She made it sound as if my poems about death and dying were like conversations she’d had with herself about the same topics.

Strangely, I felt relieved. It was as if she’s found a way to convey permission to me to continue exploring and writing about death, that doing so wasn’t offensive. Or harmful. Or insensitive.

Since then, I’ve heard others make similar remarks. Poems about death provided words for the shapes of thoughts and emotions others hadn’t been able to describe or fully comprehend. Reading my poems made many feel as if they were part of a profound dialogue.

All of us are.

I felt that tonight when I spent time with my Mom and Betty, her angelic sitter. “Will you help me fill out these forms?” Mom asked. With that, she pushed a folder that appeared to be both official and tastefully prepared.

By completing a number of agreements, my mother would successfully donate her body to science.

She spoke about signing the documents with conviction and certainty. I opened the folder. Immediately I saw a list of stipulations; if she had any one of dozens of maladies, her request would be denied.

After scanning the list, I asked Mom whether she was sure she hadn’t been incarcerated in the past twelve months. She laughed. What followed was a spirited discussion of her lone concern.

She must weigh 100 pounds.

“No problem,” I insisted. “I’ll double up on the chocolates.”

Betty assured me they had plenty.

Hearing that, I told Mom she’d have to eat more cookies. I was thinking of the good-as-homemade chocolate chips that I envied but couldn’t eat; they aren’t gluten free.

I insisted that Betty and Mom had to eat at least one more each day.

Mom laughed.

“It’s for a good cause,” I suggested. I told her I wished somebody would tell me to do the same.

Mom told me that she was worried she’ll get too fat. Betty reminded her she only weighed about 97 the last time she was on the scales.

“Think of it this way,” I said. “If a certain one of your sitters weighs you and you’re only 98, she’ll write 98 on the application. Your application will be refused. Is that what you want?”

Betty agreed with me that a strictly enforced cookie time made sense. Even so, Betty’s look told me that the scales might betray her.

I was ready to suggest that I’d start bringing bags full of cookies AND candy when an idea struck me.

“Betty, will you be the official weight checker?”

Betty wasn’t sure what I was suggesting. “Make sure you fix the scale before Mom is going to be weighed. Add about five pounds. And don’t let anybody snoop around to examine it for accuracy.”

Betty understood. Mom did too. We had a mission. Each of us had to play our part. Even Mr. Death, had he been privy to our conversation, might have grinned in agreement.

He, himself, I was sure, had tipped the scales many times before.

If I could, I might have invited him to ride with me as I completed my next mission, my visit to Matthew’s chocolate shop in Hillsborough. Experience has taught me that Mom, who has loved what I’ve found there, will love it even more now.

                            B. Koplen 2/18/13
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