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dock at sunset

“Use your hands!” . . . “Use your hands!” . . . “Use your hands!” . . . the therapist said. (He wanted her to stretch out behind her and grab the arms of the chair before sitting down, but he did not say that.)

I am using my hands. I’m holding onto my walker to steady myself. What do you mean? What are you telling me to do? See my hands. Let me show them to you. You can see I’m used to using my hands. See how the fingers are misshapen. The ends of my fingers go every which way. I played the piano and organ for years and years. I took care of children, hundreds of children in the country school, and then first grade at South Grade, then North Grade School. Do you think I’m stupid? I’m using my hands, a lot longer than you’ve used yours.

If I could stretch out my hands and grab your neck, I’d do it! Don’t think I wouldn’t.

Last night I went to see Mama and Daddy. They said things had changed, just as a matter of fact. They didn’t say how they felt about it. Things have changed. I can’t figure out why. What has happened to me? I don’t like it. I saw the baby you would have had if he had lived. He had to grow up there when he couldn’t live here. He said he liked it there. (I think—Jan did have a miscarriage at three months, but Mother can’t be talking about that.)

My souls have tried to fly away. One is staying there with Mama. She died when I was 33, just when I needed her most, trying to raise four children; my husband not staying by my side. Daddy knew what I needed. His mama died when he was four, but then he had his grandma. I never got to know my grandma. Then she died when he was seven, but he had his older sister, then she died of typhoid. Daddy had to stay with neighbors, Bill and Bess Wireman, who were good people. His daddy had to work the mail route around New Salem, and he couldn’t watch the two little ones all day. Then he married Mary Jane Seaborn, and they all got to live together. My happy soul is there with him, my stubborn soul stays in my body, and my cranky soul goes wandering around this place, wherever this is.

You’re supposed know about these things. Who are you? Why don’t you do something? (I’m your son-in-law. You know me. I’m Gary. You’ve known me for 48 years, over half your life.)

I’m not where I’m supposed to be. You can do something. Take care of it. Or are you still a turtle? Slow to move. (I am a turtle. You are a wolf, and we’re both a little crazy.)

Our souls are flying all over the place.

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