Hot wet tears run down my cheeks and under my collar. I sit at the foot of the bed and rub my mother’s knobby feet under the quilted blanket. I don’t want them to get cold. My brother Carl stands at the side of the bed, his hands resting on the part of the blanket covering Dad’s legs. This blanket lay on their bed for sixty-nine years––a wedding present from Mum’s parents. It was the blanket that my brothers and I crawled under on cold weekend mornings when we were young. The one that kept Paul warm when his fever spiked, fifty-eight years ago.
The room is not large enough for everyone. The kids––mine and Carl’s––stand in the hallway. Not kids anymore. All grown-up now, some with children of their own. The occasional whisper or shuffling can be heard outside the door, but mostly it is quiet. They take turns coming in to say their goodbyes.
Mum and Dad’s hands are clasped together on top of the blanket. This is what they wished for. They knew that when the time came, they wanted to go together. They couldn’t imagine a life apart. They met in the summer of 1949 when Mum worked at Ron’s Ice Cream Parlour on Water Street. Dad always said it was love at first sight. For the ice-cream sundae, that is. “Your mother was the cherry on top.”
After the children have all been in, and there is nothing more to do but go, I reach out and touch Carl’s arm. He can’t look at me. “It’s time,” I say. I smooth the blanket over Mum’s feet one last time, and then I stand up.
When the caretakers from the funeral home come in to take our parents away, they can barely tear Mum and Dad’s hands apart.
Ten years ago, SIMONE GARNEAU finally stopped procrastinating and started writing fiction. Most often, her ideas come to her as she drifts off to sleep. In 2010, she was short-listed in the Quebec Writing Competition and her story was published in an anthology by Véhicule Press. She was also a long-list finalist in the 2010 CBC Literary Awards Short Story Competition. Simone lives in Montreal and is working on a novel.
Copyright © 2019 by Simone Garneau. All rights reserved.