A Memoir by Karen Edwards
The coolness in the air reminds me of an early morning in the mountains. Where the only sounds are those of the birds singing and the whisper of the leaves as a breeze passes through the trees. A subtle scent of pine drifts along an invisible current carrying with it the hope of possibility.
But I am not in the mountains. Nor am I running along the familiar path that hugs the banks of the Delaware Rivertown, I call home. I am running loops through my sister’s cul-de-sac development. As I pass by the two and three car garage homes, I notice the varying colors of brick, contrasting siding, and landscape design that each house displays in a vain attempt to discern itself from the cookie-cutter neighborhood.
I checked weather.com before heading out, and according to the radar I calculated I had about thirty minutes before the rain would come. Looking overhead, the darkening clouds still appear in the distance, so I decide to push my luck and squeeze in another loop. But the rain comes early. What starts out as a late summer sun shower, quickly turns into a pounding downpour.
I round the corner to head back, bounding off the curb, lengthening and picking up my stride as my heels hit the glistening black asphalt. As I approach the end of the driveway, my sisters’ cat, a lanky orange, and white Tabby named Finn, emerges from the neighbor’s bushes. We both race towards the shelter of my sister’s front porch leaping in near unison over the blue flagstone steps. I pace back and forth for a moment waiting to catch my breath. The cat and I exchange glances. “Well, I’m sure glad we both made it back O.K. Finny boy,” I said as I bend over to stroke his damp fur.
I look back at the rain beating hard upon the road and hear the rumble of thunder. High-pitched yelps from my sister’s dog emanate from inside the house. The dog, I believe, interprets the thunder as an invisible threat, so she barks to protect her territory. But what do I know? Truth be told that dog, (although an extremely sweet soul) will bark at anything and everything. The storm and the barking jolt me back to reality marking the end to my outdoor respite.
I enter the house and immediately feel the chill from the air conditioning against my wet skin. I look down at my Timex sports watch, it reads 24:13. I quickly estimate that even with my slower pace, I at least covered two, maybe two-and-a-quarter miles. I smile pleased with my effort because in my book, any day (regardless of the weather) that begins with a morning run, is a great way to start the day.
While I wait for my sister to free up the bathroom (so I can take a shower), I enter the dimly lit kitchen and put the teakettle on. I walk into the dining room, towards my mother’s hospice bed which is positioned diagonally across the room. The bed’s angle provides ample room on either side for me and my sister, when we give Mom a bed bath, change her PJ’s or linens, and her disposable undergarment. The angle also provides Mom with optimal views into the kitchen, as well as a view of the tree-lined backyard through the dining room’s set of double windows. I pull back the long drapes allowing what little bit of light stuck in the stormy sky to slip in. Even though Mom is peacefully asleep, I proceed to tell her all about my morning adventure. To drown out the dogs incessant barking, I cue up Mom’s favorite Elvis playlist on my cell phone and sync it to the mini portable speaker.
The Kings “Can’t Help Falling in Love” fills the room. I lean over the metal side railings of Mom’s bed, and look down at her floral pink and teal, navy-piped pajama top. I sharpen my focus until I detect the shallow rise and fall of her chest. I think to myself – Today could be the day. After five weeks on hospice care, our prayers could finally be answered. Today could be the day when Mom could decide to leave us and her failing body and return to heaven.”
Karen Edwards – a native New Yorker, left her corporate job several years ago and rejoices everyday she is not confined to a cubicle. She is working on a book about the challenges of living in a marriage of illusion during the 1980’s AIDS crisis that claimed the life of her first husband. An amateur photographer and lifelong runner, she lives in a river town in New Jersey along with her husband, two teenage boys, two guinea pigs and a cat named Murphy.