[As I said last week, I wanted to put up an example of my writing that is more recent than the poems I’ve posted recently – here is a short story (flash) that I wrote just a few years ago. I hope you all enjoy it!]

She won’t go to the doctor for the diagnosis that’s sure to be bad for lack of convenience. Too much to do. Shows on TV that can’t be TIVO’d. Words in the search that can’t wait to be circled, and won’t find themselves. A chair to keep warm. Bills that don’t exist yet must be paid on time. Grass to monitor the non-cutting of. Baths to not take and Depends to change and slowly walk to the outside garbage can to deposit.

Eighty-two years is a long time to live. A lot goes on in that life of ‘following my military man around.’

“My mother came over one day to visit. She was out talking with me while I hung the wash on the line and I said something about my ‘kids.’ My mother shook her finger in my face and said, ‘Don’t you raise kids – you raise children!’” [finger shaking in the air, eyes glistening with tears that never fall]. I must have heard this on a daily basis in the years of vascular dementia as I moaned something about my own ‘kids.’

Staying in somebody else’s house because she can no longer live by herself – again, that’s just not convenient. Things aren’t the same in someone else’s house, even if it is your favorite son. For one, that damn daughter-in-law changes the TV channels too much. And listens in on phone conversations with the lawyer and the ‘out-of-town-children-that-never-come-to-visit-anymore-but-want-to-put-me-in-a-home.’ And complains about a lack of showers and insinuates something stinks.

Burying a husband of 60+ years is also not convenient, but when the bush-hog flips into the lake and crushes him against the dam [drowning was too damaging to the heart to even consider, we’ll never talk about it and it won’t ever be a possibility—instant death doing what he loved while painfully dying of cancer and a radiation seared prostate that never heals keeps the imagery happy] then there’s nothing left to do but hear the honor guard shoot and plant him in the ground. He’d love the image of planting, having worked a garden for as long as anyone left alive can remember. The minister, a grandson (18 great-grands to date!), gave a light-hearted eulogy that focused on accomplishment and autobiography and how a man loves a woman. Perhaps that’s how a funeral should be — no talk of abuse/alcohol/anger/war/death/anything-bad-at-all-especially-a-painful-memory-dammit.

Having your driver’s license taken away by a man who sees you for a few minutes every few months (but wears a nice white coat and has some paper from University Medical Center that gives him all the power) is absolutely not convenient. Now who will go check the PO Box? The mailbox is there at the end of the drive, but the mail is directed to the PO Box, and not the house box. No one should actually know where you live. Do you realize how much time it takes to cut your name and address off of every piece of mail you get and then shred it so no one will know where you live? Or steal your mailing address?

Now the cars will sit idle and the oil will thicken and the plates will expire and the insurance will run out or get cancelled. And what about emergencies? What do you do when you can’t drive and the only person around is the youngest son who still delivers pizza (at 40+ years of age) and really just visits for the free food and the cash and running water and a/c?

Age, perhaps, is the ultimate inconvenience in life. When you can’t remember and you can’t move or go or come and you just feel so tired all the time but can’t sleep. The grass keeps growing. The fences fall down. The dust piles up. The tractors and equipment rust in the rain. All that was once so precious to so many slowly decays with the passing of time and the neglect of care. The material things, and the intangibles.

Preparing for the next phase of life is not convenient either, especially if it’s a place we never wanted to go. Especially if it’s for death. There’s just too much to think about and plan out. What am I going to do with all my stuff? Who gets what? Who wants what? Who’ll be potentially disappointed and who won’t care? Too much inconvenience—doctors and lawyers and paperwork and decisions. Right now there’s too much living to be done to think about moving or dying. Too many years to remember and forget.

Perhaps when times aren’t so busy there’ll be a chance to work these things through. And hopefully [maybe this one will even get a half-prayer to help it along] hopefully, one day there’ll be a more convenient time to die.

Matthew Jackson

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