We buried Mom. Dead. Finally. Pancreatic cancer is a fast, vicious way to go. It is fast, cancer-wise, but not fast enough. For the last two months Mama could barely hear me. She always had that faraway glazed look as she tried to deal with the pain, every moment, every day.
I went home and washed my car. Papa used to joke about it.
“How is it that scrubbing cars can make a child of mine look so ecstatic? He used to say to Mom and all his friends. It was the best washed car in town, then it would be. If I stop, I’m back at the same old monster movie. I get in free.
I remembered the weekend it started. Mom had found Papa’s journal. The first he knew about it was when it hit him on the head and she howled, “How could you?”
She clipped him on the ear to make sure he was listening and then sent our scrabble board scrittering across the floor. She pointed to the door and I ran, but not to far.
“How could you write with…venom of one who died in such pain?” she cried. The only person I knew who had died was my Uncle Joe. Dead before I was born, the story I heard was that he had fallen on a piece of rebar at a construction site. It pierced his stomach and he died a couple of weeks later after infection set in. They say my grandparents really never got over it.
“Why shouldn’t I?” roared Papa, right back.
“Why shouldn’t I write bad things about that bastard. I’ve been a good father to yours, haven’t I?”
She slapped him. I heard it. I was still trying to understand – did Mom have another kid I didn’t know about? My world was starting to rock.
“I loved him, you have no right. I thought you were a good man,” she added bitterly.
What a weekend it was, with the confusion and pain between Mama & Papa virtually tangible. If it had had a physical substance their antipathy would have filled our house with mud.
Things cooled down but they were never the same after that and ever since…our family had the cleanest cars in town.