sits at her dining room table and stares into a cup of coffee.
She barely had the energy to make it, and certainly doesn't have
the energy to drink it. It is as if all of her life force is seeping
away. And in her mind she wishes that maybe it would.
her mind come the strains of an old song. Something about happiness
being Joe. She smiles for it is so appropriate. For her happiness
is Joe. He has been her happiness for over sixty years and now
he has been taken away. Strangely she knows the name of the kidnapper
but she can do nothing about it. There is no one she can report
this kidnapping to. He was kidnapped by Alzheimer's.
never thought this day would come when he would be away from her,
but the point had been reached when she knew he could no longer
stay at home. So her daughter and son-in-law had taken him to
the "facility." What an awful name - the facility. What
else would you call it - a home? Not likely. It was a place where
he would be cared for and watched over. But what about her? Who
would watch over her now, now that Joe was gone.
an instant she began to rage at God, and then just as quickly
she was praying to Him. That is the way it went now; one minute
angry and the next minute afraid, and then eventually contrite.
She didn't know which way was the right way to handle all of this.
It was just so confusing.
hears sounds in the house and she looks around expecting to see
him there. She also hears sounds in the night and expects him
to be there beside her. Can that be called ghosts? Can there be
a ghost when the person who is haunting you isn't dead?
forces herself to sip the coffee. It tastes bitter, just like
her life. It shouldn't be this way. They should have died together
in their sleep, or in a car accident, or anything. Together, that
is the key word. Together. Not this separateness. She wants to
see him right now, wants to hold him, and wants to be held by
presses her hand to her forehead. It is all so difficult. She
wonders if she can bear this. She wonders if she wants to. Would
it be a sin to pray to die? But then who would look after Joe?
Even if she isn't with him, she is still going to make sure he
hears the song again in her mind, and she smiles. People try to
make happiness so complex. They torture themselves trying to achieve
it. They build up fantasies about what would bring happiness.
But in her reality, happiness is just a thing called Joe.
K. Cooper was born in South Carolina and now lives in Georgia.
He is familiar to people living in the middle Georgia area as
the "entertainment man" since his entertainment reviews
run in newspapers and are shown on television there. His short
stories have been used as commentary on Georgia Public Radio.
He also keeps active appearing as an after dinner speaker for
has lived an exceptionally interesting life and portions of it
are contained in his first book Journey of a Gentle Southern
Man. The journey continued in Chances and Choices.
first two books, Journey of a Gentle Southern Man
and Chances and Choices, were reprinted and published
by Mercer University Press in July 2004. His third book Halfway
Home was published by Mercer University Press in October
is currently at work on his fourth book, The Book Binder,
which will be published in the fall of 2006.
his website, or email
Jackie K. Cooper