43 years of marriage.
My father cues my mother to stand up from her chair:
He takes her hands and says,
“One, two, three, up!”
She looks up at him expectantly,
Wanting to do a good job.
A good Girl Scout, she used to call herself.
Sometimes it takes a few tries
For her to get it.
Finally, she bears down on his hands
And pulls herself to standing.
“Good up,” Dad says, pulling up the waistband of her pants,
Which had slid down.
In their wedding picture,
My father’s tux pants were a couple inches too short.
My mother is wearing the sleeveless straight white dress
That she let me use as a
Halloween costume when I was the
Bride of Frankenstein’s monster in high school.
It’s a color picture
But it’s faded into yellows and greens and grays.
Last year we were at a wedding.
My younger cousin and her new husband
Came out of the reception hall
Into the hotel lobby to say good night to
Aunt Marti and
My cousin hadn’t seen my mother in years,
And I watched her wedding smile
As she tried to greet my mother
Who stared unblinking at her for a moment,
And then started fidgeting with her dress.
This is marriage.
A white-haired main leading his Alzheimer’s-stricken wife by the elbow
Into the parking lot of the hotel,
Into the dark spring night.
The script my brother and I wrote
Would take care of
In their old age.
If you’d known them then,
You would’ve thought the same.
She was the one feeding us vegetables at every meal.
She was the one balancing the checkbook at the dining room table.
She was the one deep-cleaning the oven at night.
God chuckles at scripts like that,
And shores up my father for his
She did take care of him for many years.
And now he’s taking care of her.
Not always with perfect patience or skill.
But with a
Willingness and a
Devotion that’s a