Alive Another Day
KJ Hannah Greenberg
A senior citizen protected
by a large straw sun hat and elsewise covered from wrists to ankles, makes her way
among tombstones. She pauses at one.
two months, one week and six days past my seventieth birthday. Why aren’t you here
to rejoice with me? We agreed I’d go first.
so miserable without you. The insurance money’s
keeping me afloat and the kids visit . . . sometimes, but life’s no good alone.
nasty piece of work! You promised to outlive me.”
“I’ve been granted the gift of
waking up again!”
months, two weeks and five days past my seventieth birthday!”
Ma. Yesterday was three months, two weeks and four days
past your seventieth birthday.”
“Oh Honey, you’re
“You bet! We’re only guaranteed
seventy years and I’ve been given a reprieve to live longer.”
“Not so amazing; the
average female life expectancy, here, is eighty-two.”
“I don’t. I read it in Statista.”
“Nope, for first-world countries,
mostly. You were born in the right place, at the right time.”
“Counting COVID and
no matter, Scripture gives us seventy, so I’m
living on bonus time.”
“I know, you call me every
morning to let me know.”
“Hi, Mom! How come you’re not
“His phone number isn’t
“Did you know that
three months, three weeks and four days have passed since my seventieth birthday?”
“Lunch with the girls? Manicure?
Signing up for a new app?”
“No, most of them are on a
cruise. I don’t like nail polish. You didn’t forget? Besides, I’m happy using
dated technology. No new apps for this grandma.
“So, I’m celebrating
by calling you.”
“Oh . . . Did you
know I got to the office two hours ago?”
“The early bird .
“Mom, you can’t call me every
“Maybe, after the
kids are asleep, I can Zoom with you.”
you in fourteen hours.”
you always have to make me feel guilty?”
just called to wish you a ‘good morning.’
No guilt attached. Hanging up, now.”
A senior citizen fights
against snowdrifts in boots, a parka, and assorted cold weather gear as she makes her
way among tombstones. She pauses at one.
“Berel, you were supposed
to outlive me. I get it that your father caved, but a son ought to respect his
mother. I wanted to read to your children! I wanted to meet your wife! I wanted to clap
at your college graduation! You didn’t let me do any of that.
“Did you know that
today is four years, ten months, one week and two days past my seventieth birthday? I would
have gladly given you my decades, instead, if it had been possible.
“Anyway, the docs
say the cancer’s returned. I wanted to tell someone.”
Teri told me you’ve been calling her at work.
You shouldn’t do that.”
“If a mother can’t
say ‘good morning’ to her children, what’s the point of motherhood?”
is picking up in five, so please just tell me today’s
“I’m five years and a day past
my seventieth birthday.”
there’s the horn. Gotta go. Love you. Kisses and
adults, their spouses, and their children make their
way among tombstones. They pause at a fresh gravesite.
years, six months, and four days since her seventieth
“I shouldn’t have changed my
phone number. Her calls took only a few minutes.”
have told her I was busy at work when all I was doing was sipping my second coffee and
checking my Facebook account.”
“I should have been
honest and let her know that carpool was a lifeline for me after Peter was diagnosed. I
never told her about his illness—I didn’t want to add to her burdens. Now,
I realize it would have been better to have had her involved. At least the surgery worked
and Peter’s clear.”
“Five years, six months, and
four days since her seventieth birthday.”
“Which do you think
was worse for her, Berel’s death or Dad’s?”
was really afraid of dying. Her calls were her way of
celebrating each droplet of life.”
It must have been awful to live so many hours, days,
weeks, months, and years alone.”
“You sound like Mom.”
Expect calls from me if I pass seventy.”
KJ Hannah Greenberg has
been playing with words and images for an awfully long
time. Check out her poetry and art book, One-Handed Pianist (Hekate Publishing, 2021).