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A Quarterly Journal
Jeffrey Woodward, Founder & Owner
Ray Rasmussen, General Editor

Volume 11, Number 3, September 2017
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Adelaide B. Shaw
Millbrook, New York, USA


Happy Days

She knits on the bus ride home. A sweater for her son. It will be finished by her next visit. Not that he'll know it's from her. She's just another person who comes to take him outside, feed him ice cream.

He'll forget her by the next visit. If she had kept him with her he would know her, like he knows the people at the home. Daily contact, daily baths and feeding. Daily fussing and care. Lots of care.

"What’s wrong?" she asked when he was born.

"Jaundice. It will go away soon."

Soon became two weeks and two trips to the hospital. Twelve years of trips. Tests, exams, X-rays, CAT scans. The poking and probing. Leg braces, a wheelchair, bedrails.

Adjust. Accept. Her burden after her husband walked out.

squalor in the streets . . .
pushing past obstacles
one at a time
to find an easier route
with less pain and more calm

"It's a good home,” the social workers said. "Good and compassionate care. He'll be happy."

Happy. How can he be happy in that twisted body, that swaying stumble when he tries to walk with his legs encased in steel, with his limited speech and understanding?

her heart in a vice
she bears the pain and shuns
the unthinkable
until the pressure squeezes
all her strength and resolve

Maybe she'll skip next month’s visit. She'll mail the sweater when it's finished. And, call the home. They'll be sympathetic. It's a compassionate home, isn't it? Compassion for patients and parents, too.

She'll visit on his birthday in July. Only two months away. No. That's wrong. His birthday is in August. July is her younger son's birthday. The boy won't know if it's a week, a month, or three months. He'll be happy just the same. She'll be happy not to see that uncomprehending look in his fearful eyes and hear his agitated cries for his aid. And, the aid will be happy that the boy is calm. If she stays away, everyone will be happy.

come . . . raise your voices . . .
happy days are here again
the new religion
said loud enough and often
the mind will believe a lie

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