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The Meaning of a Kiss

My father calls just as we are about to leave the car.

It’s his third call of the day.

“Don’t pick up,” my husband instructs, fixing me with a hard stare.

But I do, immediately rummaging through my bag for a chocolate kiss and popping one in my mouth. Sugar calms. Don’t let anyone tell you otherwise.

“Hi Dad,” I say pleasantly, the sweetness softening my tongue. “You’re at your doctor appointment?”

“Yes,” he grumbles dejectedly, sounding lost and faraway, which he is. “But they are taking a long time.”

“Let’s go,” My husband interrupts, exiting the car and opening the back door to release the children. I shoot him my nasty eye glare, which he returns to me with his own give-me-a-break eye roll. Touche.

“Don’t worry,” I hurriedly assure my father, the last bits of patience dissolving in my mouth. “There’s plenty of time.”

I hang up mildly abruptly, the only way with him, and hurry to catch up with my husband and our three boys who are already headed into the hospital to visit my husband’s aunt.

She has some health problems, but the biggest is her progressing dementia. Still, she nods pleasantly when we arrive; possibly happy to see us, possibly uncertain who we are.

We try to prompt some conversation but quickly realize that a polite, vacant, ‘No thank you’, ‘yes’, or ‘I don’t know’ is as much as she’s capable of giving. It’s uncomfortable and ultimately we give up on talk, instead opting to hyper focus on our blissfully ignorant boys as they spin quarters across the table.

They are too wild, but she doesn’t really seem to notice; her line of vision both straight ahead and internal. Remembering her fondness for sweets, I find some more chocolate kisses and set them in front of her. Slowly she reaches for one, automatically unwrapping it, and placing it in her mouth. I feel a childish pride in her acceptance and wish I had something more to offer.

Suddenly without prompting, she announces to everyone and no-one, “Time for bed.”

My husband and I look at each other startled. Was she asking us to leave? Were my boys too loud? I immediately stop the game of quarters.

Shortly after, we say our good-byes and leave her sitting in the same seat we found her, still staring straight ahead; her aged fingers slowly working the silver foil of another chocolate.

Back in the car, I notice a missed call from my father. Taking a deep breath, I dial his number and unconsciously search my bag for another kiss, which soothes me the moment it touches my lips. It makes me think of my husband’s aunt, sitting straight and placid; seemingly unaffected by our visit, her mouth full of chocolate but no words, and wonder if she was doing the same with us.





About Ice Scream Mama

Mama to 3 boys, wife to Mr. Baseball and daughter of a sad man. I have a double scoop every day.

41 responses »

  1. That was gut- wrenching and lovely.

  2. Beautiful! Lot’s of lovely sweet layers to this one. Happy thoughts to you and your family.

  3. Chocolate soothes everything, doesn’t it?

  4. Beautiful writing. I’d like to think that the chocolate kiss was a sensory memory for your Husband’s Aunt – maybe a before-bed treat?

  5. I watched my grandmother slowly lose her mind. It’s a disconcerting experience, to say the least. ((hugs))

  6. Natalie DeYoung

    Chocolate makes things better. It’s painful, going through this, and I’m sorry you have to. Old age is a bitch. 😦

  7. I love the image of her sitting there turning the foil over–nice work!

  8. painful. beautiful. necessary. and yes, sugar soothes. on me, it also jiggles and wobbles.

  9. That sweetness is definitely the momentary cure for what ails you. This is such a beautiful piece.

  10. Sweet post… in more than one level… I love it!… Chocolate always does the trick for me…

  11. “The last bits of patience dissolving in my mouth,” what a wonderful use of foreshadow and how beautifully you tied these two stories together with sweet chocolate. So well crafted.

  12. I’m glad the chocolate could soothe. I hate when the stress is so high it catches in your throat.

  13. Very sad and lovely – thanks for sharing. And kudos on the well-deserved kudos!

  14. Such a great introspective post. It’s such a hard experience on everyone when our loved ones aren’t themselves. I’m sorry you and your family are going through this.

  15. This is very sweet (get it, ha!). Now, I want chocolate.

  16. This is beautifully written. I love the connections you draw between you, your father, your husband’s aunt, and the chocolate. Very well done.

  17. “her line of vision both straight ahead and internal”

    …such a good line

  18. Pingback: yeah write #154 weekly writing challenge winners: jury prize, editor picks, crowd favorite + top row four | yeah writeyeah write

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