For Mom The brother who gave me a kidney for my transplant sent me an email telling me not to wear my filthy Yankee cap to mom’s funeral out of respect for my mother. Mom knew how I felt and we grew closer while I helped take care of her the nine months before she died. Besides, she’d hardly notice lying in her closed casket and if she did, she’d laugh, shake her head and pull me in with her for a hug, ask if Judge homered in last night’s west coast game against the Angels. Jaime was a baby when Dad wanted to kick me out of the house for hair hanging past my shoulders and mom kept yelling, over my dead body, until the next door neighbors, the ones my other brother named The Gruesome’s to rhyme with Newsome, threatened to call the cops and Dad told them to mind their own friggin’ business and forgot all about my hair, me. Jaime never could guess how much it meant that mom kept asking about my writing, the only one in the family who read my poems and never asked why I wrote that or told me not to write this, sometimes reminding me she was the one who taught me to read, leaning into her arms, my leg in its brace, laid flat across the couch when I couldn’t go out and play with the other kids who sometimes called me names, her finger underlining letters, pointing out words, making me repeat sounds, and though she only met Jesse, the severely autistic son of the woman I briefly lived with three, four, times at holiday dinners, she always wanted to know everything about him, delighted to hear he spent his weekend skiing or climbing on every roller coaster, every whirling scary ride at the summer fair, not like you Anthony, laughing again when I nodded yeah, Jesse still loves ripping books into piles of thin paper slices, orders chicken fingers, French fries extra hot any time we eat out, and then she made me promise to take care of that kid, now a man, good.
About the Author: Tony Gloeggler is a life-long resident of NYC and managed group homes for the mentally challenged for over 40 years. His work has appeared in Rattle, New Ohio Review, Book Of Matches, Chiron Review, Nerve Cowboy. His most recent book, What Kind Of Man with NYQ Books, was a finalist for the 2021 Paterson Poetry Prize and long listed for Jacar Press’ Julie Suk Award.
Image Credit: Édouard Vuillard “The Artist’s Mother Opening a Door” (1886) Public domain image courtesy of Artvee.