Muscadine Lines: A Southern Journal

Happiness Is Just

Jackie K. Cooper


She 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.

Through 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.

She 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.

In 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.

She 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?

She 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 him.

She 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 is okay.

She 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.

***

Jackie 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 various events.

Cooper 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.

Jackie's 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 2004.

Cooper is currently at work on his fourth book, The Book Binder, which will be published in the fall of 2006.

Visit his website, or email Jackie

© Jackie K. Cooper

Muscadine Lines: A Southern Journal ISSN 1554-8449, Copyright © 2004-2012