by Erika Dahl Price
When he first saw her, he said, “Hello, pake wahini.” When he wrote her a poem, he said, “You are like a mountain⸺the farther away you are, the better you look.” When she gave birth to their first, he said, “Now that didn’t look so bad.” When the moment called for profanity, he said, “Equine escrete!” When he moved their family to a house with no plumbing, he said, “But the rent is free and I can fix it; just need a few tools.” When he handed her his dissertation to type, it said lots of things she didn’t understand. When the littlest clung to his leg, whimpering on the porch, and asked, “Is she ever coming back?” as she slammed the door and drove away, he said, “I hope so.” When she said she had felt alone for years, he said, “I’m so sorry, forgive me.” On Thursday mornings he winked at her and said, “I’ll be home for lunch.” When she set the meal, he said the prayer. When the sixteen-year-old daughter sassed her, he said, “You’d look pretty funny walking around with your buttocks between your shoulder blades. . . .” When the kids left home, he said, “Now we can go on that vacation.” When she begged to move out West, he said, “If it would make you happy.” When the stroke hit in the backyard, he said, “That was the strangest thing.” When he saw the loose screw, he said, “Will you bring me the whatchamacallit?” When she asked him if he remembered his address, he said, “Of course I remember. It’s the same as yours.” When he sat on the evening porch with her, he said, “I’m not the same as I used to be.” When she asked how he did it, he said, “I just took the bull by the hand. . .” When he bowed his head for the supper prayer, he said, “And we’re glad for all these good people. Please bless these good people. And we’re happy to have all these good people…” When the doctor said he had Alzheimer’s, he said, “Damn.” When he wanted a spoon, he said, “I need a fork.” When he soiled himself, he said, “Did I do something wrong?” When he wanted the television off, he said, “Um. Tsk. Huh. There. There!” When she asked him if he was hungry, he said, “Yum, yum, yum, yum, yum.” When she asked which kind he wanted, he shook his head, as if to say, “No. No, thank you.” When she hung his clothes in his new closet, he cried. When she visited him in the afternoons, she turned his face toward hers, cupped his soft, quiet hands like a bird, and spoke for the two of them.