Sunday, November 05, 2006

by Joan Dobbie

I believe that my mother

is up there in heaven
playing scrabble with my life.

I’m not joking. I really believe this.
Let me try to explain.

When she died on May 25, 2002

she left behind
Irving, a man she’d adored

in the last four years
of her life.

Before that, her best friend
had been Claire, Irving’s wife.

During Claire’s long, drawn out
dying, they’d spent many

an afternoon playing scrabble together

in Irving and Claire’s sunny Boulder apartment.
When I was around, I would join them.

Even on the very last day of her life, Claire
was cheerful, loving

saintly, really, and I’m not saying this

She’d asked my mom to take care
of Irving and him to take care of her.

The love that miraculously grew up
between them was rooted

in their mutual
memory of Claire, whom they’d lost.

And then there was me.
I’d messed up my life, couldn’t pay rent
gone out there to Boulder

to be with my Mom
when the time came that she needed me

While I took care of her,
she took care of me.

“What will you do after I’m gone?”
she’d ask me again and again.

I didn’t tell her I’d come straight back
to Eugene, didn’t let on

how homesick I was.
But she died. And I did

come back, armed with the strength
I’d garnered from her and the money
she’d left me.

My kids said, “Ma, buy a house!”

So I looked and I looked
for a house. And I found one.

Now listen to this:

It was in Santa Clara (St. Claire)
at 225 1/2 Irving Road.

It cost to the dollar the amount
that she’d left me.

The yard was like our yard,
when we were young.

And as I was riding back home
the other afternoon from
Jerry’s Home Improvement Center

thinking about these things
I remembered how my mom
used to always like to add up all of our
scores at the end of the game.

On a whim I added up my age (56)
hers (88 1/2) and Irving’s age (81)

on the morning she died.
225 1/2 I said under my breath.

Then I pulled into my driveway.

Joan Dobbie
Copyright 2003