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Rose and Ruthie

"An aid came in to put Mom’s teeth in, important she explained, before the body stiffened."

Published onApr 07, 2024
Rose and Ruthie

Photo by cottonbro studio:

I think that, in the end, my mother died a peaceful death. I wasn’t there, missed it by forty minutes. The call came at 6:00 a.m. I knew before I answered. I showered and started the three hour drive I now knew by heart. The cleanup of coffee spilt in my lap delayed me. My two sisters were there and sang Mom’s favorite hymns. Both my sisters inherited my mother’s strong singing voice. I was glad I missed that part, the hymn singing. Mom was partially propped up in her bed in the home when I arrived. Ruthie, her roommate, was watching ‘The Sound of Music.’ She watched it every day. An aid came in to put Mom’s teeth in, important she explained, before the body stiffened. A very old lady appeared in her housecoat, stood at the end of the bed, smiled and said ‘Good bye Rose.’ One sister left, the one who had refused to participate throughout the punishing struggle of Mom’s last months. The other sat across the bed from me and we talked over the dead body between us. She is the eldest. She had developed a tick below one eye. Once I had offered, ‘I think we’ll miss her when it's over’ and my sister had looked up at me in disbelief. We went through the three small drawers in the dresser near the bed and chose some suitable clothing. Tucked in a corner we found Ruthie’s teeth. They had been missing for weeks.

Lynda Wilde is a Canadian writer/photographer living between the cities of Kingston, Ontario, Canada, and Oaxaca de Juárez, Mexico. Her poetry has been published  in Willawa Journal, El Portal (UE New Mex), SAR (San Antonio Review), DASH (USCF),  Filling Station, Freefall,  and her prose in Guernica Edition’s 2022 Anthology of Canadian Flash Fiction Writers, ‘This Will Only Take a Minute.”

Frank Retopy:

Thank you for this moving story. Best regards from Canada