I tell people I’m an 18- year-old butch, a boi, trapped in my 58- year-old body,
or a 20- something year old, sober young man, like my son’s friends in recovery
that gather around him on his 21st birthday. Then I too can say things like cool as fuck
or even be that—cool as fuck. One of my son’s young friends, a girl, says oh look
your mom she’s such a mom so cool so beautiful. Tells me, I’ve wanted to meet you.
And you, I want you for a daughter-in-law, I think, though she is “just a friend,”
who loves my son, as so many do. A young couple arrives with their baby. Who I soon greedily borrow. She’s such a mom, my son’s friends say. Look how the baby looks
at your mother. And I think, I wanted so many more. So sure of that thing, wanting
to be a mother. Only one precious one lived. One out of eight pregnancies.
But the view changes.
And I can’t quantify my gratitude for my son. Unstoppable. Until I die, or perhaps lose my mind. Does my mom still feel gratitude? We think we see joy slowly lighten her face when she recognizes one of us, her children, her grandchildren,
her caregivers. Our mom used to say we were her most creative act. Sometimes her smile matches ours. Like a gurgling baby grin mirrors a delighted audience.
Yesterday I notice my mom still gulps her coffee the same way. Makes
a noticeable noise that is comforting. Lone piece left of her. All else silenced by brain changes. She who talked and mothered so much more than we cared to listen.
Today she stares blankly offering a surprise sentence, yes it does, or, that man certainly
is repulsive, about that buffoonish, dangerous bully child man, now the president. Years before this bad time, when she could talk, she told us see that man,
pointing to Senator Obama, someday he’ll be president.
But then the view changed.
The mind is unpredictable and the view changes. Someday I may see
some of what my mom saw in her twilight years. Fairies coming to rescue
her, or “bad boys,” abusive men that lurk in the dark, who she thought she married
after our father died. Television movie characters. Booth from Bones. Mr. Darcy
from Pride and Prejudice. Perhaps my delusions will be purely my own. Or, will I worry myself to my grave like my dad? Though Parkinson’s hammered the nail.
Today I notice the sky beams pink, gracious clouds. The sunrise outside my kitchen window. I’m not usually up this early. Sweet surprise. The view changed,
after the storm that blasted through our old scoundrel, this City of Angels. Today
reminds me of luster, of hope. Even as I age, I can see the view change.
Me in my own body. Loving my life. As it is. Embracing my South African wife,
who my son calls a badass. Perhaps planting one more tattoo on my 58-year-old vessel. Not on the breast, since it will soon meet my stomach.
The view changes.
Carla Sameth’s memoir, One Day on the Gold Line, was published in 2019 and her chapbook, What Is Left is forthcoming. Her work appears in literary journals and anthologies. A Pasadena Rose Poet, a Pride Poet, and a former PEN Teaching Artist, Carla lives in Pasadena with her wife. @carlasameth (she/her) carlasameth.com