I knew a man who once said, “death smiles at us all; all a man can do is smile back.”–From the movie Gladiator
When mom starts to go down the twelve steps it takes for her to get to the ground floor of her home, she always looks down from the top of the stairs and says, “I hope I make it. If I don’t, I am just going to die.”
I don’t believe she is really thinking about really dying, because I don’t believe she thinks she will ever fall. But one thing’s for sure, her saying this is as predicable as day and night. It is her very own homemade expression … no more … no less.
Besides, I am in front of her all the way. I back down the stairs, one step below her each step of the way, so I can steady her if need be. Remember, I am her son and guardian angel. And the fact is, mom has never had a misstep on my watch, and that’s been a little over two years, now.
Normally, I follow her “I’m going to die,” line with something like, “You’re not going to fall, mom. You are a mountain climbing woman and you are going to hop down these steps like a champion. All you need to do is count each step out loud (which she always does), and before you know it, you will be at the bottom.”
That’s her cue to say, “OK, if you think I can make it,” and then start stepping her way down while counting out loud to twelve. Her steps are always steady and sure.
But, this time, for whatever reason, I switched it up and asked her what she thought about people dying?
“I don’t like it one bit, because every time somebody dies, you have to stop everything you’re doing and go out and get some chicken and rolls and some kind of salad … and cake.
This is what you have to do every time somebody dies. And, you have to go to their funeral and be nice even if that person wasn’t nice. You can’t even say they weren’t nice because this is their day, even if they don’t know it. It just is.
Then everybody eats and nobody says much other than, this is so sad, or it’s so nice to see you.
When you get home you can finally say anything you want about what you really think. And you get so hungry, you just want to eat more.”
Time flies when you talk about death and dying with mom. We were both at the bottom of the steps before we knew it. Mom was as serious as she could be and I was seriously laughing my head off.
In fact I was laughing so hard, I had worked up an appetite.
I sure could have used a big slice or two of that cake!