Sunday, October 25, 20
My hands are shaky as the leaves on the trees today. Hope you can read this all right. I hate seeing that I’ve got old lady handwriting. But then, it stands to reason, doesn’t it? How’d we get so old?
It’s Sunday and I ain’t been to church. Been sitting here all morning by my Edgar, trying to get enough courage up to let him go. I sent everybody away—all the parishioners who been bringing greens and pots of stew and washing up my dishes while I sit with him. Sent even the children away. They can all come back later, when I’ve gone and done what I need to do.
Sister, I been here all morning and can’t open up my mouth to say it. Go on, Edgar. I’ll be all right. He’s just waiting for that, because when he fell into this coma, I grabbed his old hand and begged him not to leave me.
And he’s such a good man, he’s holding on. There, now I’m crying again.
I been holding his hand for sixty-two years. This morning, I was holding it and remembering that morning he first came to our back door, asking for a drink of water. Remember? He’d been down on his luck, but he was so proud. He looked so good in the sunshine with his pretty head and that strong old nose. My heart flipped clean over and I wasn’t but fifteen. I’ve had no use for any other man since that day.
I been remembering all of it this morning. Wondering how it would of been if we’d stayed back there in Mississippi with all y’all. Wondering what it was he saw in Italy that made him never talk about it his whole life long. Wondering if we’d of had as good a life if we hadn’t come west to Pueblo, where we’ve been so peaceful. Home of the Heroes. Did you know they call it that nowdays? Fitting. Edgar put away all his medals, but he was sure proud when the Medal of Honor winners all came here. He put on his best suit that morning, and went down to listen to them, all four old men like him. I went along with him, of course, but I didn’t hear what he did. I asked him one time if it was so bad as all that, and he just bowed his head and said, Worse.
So I just let it be.
And he’s not a perfect man, not by any means. He was too stern with the children, fussy about things as he got old, wanting every little thing his way. We’ve had our share of dark times, too, times when I wanted to take a meat cleaver to his stubborn old head. Once or twice, he hurt my heart, but he never did it on purpose.
It’s not those times I’m thinking of now, though. I’m remembering how hard we could laugh, so much that Edgar would get to wheezing. I’m thinking about waking up morning after morning after morning with him lying beside me. Listening to him, whistling as he fiddled with a television dead but for the magic he gave it with his clever mind.
Lord, give me strength. I have got to let him go. He’s withering away right in front of my eyes. But I’m telling you the truth, sister, I’m going, too. I asked the Lord to take me. Y’all know I love you, but you, sister, know my life won’t be nothing without him.
BertaFrom the Hardcover edition.
Excerpted from The Goddesses of Kitchen Avenue by Barbara Samuel. Copyright © 2004 by Barbara Samuel. Excerpted by permission of Ballantine Books, a division of Random House LLC. All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.