UNITED STATES—”The first thing I heard about mom’s fall, where she broke her hip, I was pinioned by grief both for her and Tatiana.”

Davy squirms in the diner booth, removed from bedside.

“What does pinioned mean?” Karen, his sister, asks.

“Oh, a fancy word for crucified… It happened just like Tatiana’s premonition. She came in the morning and there was mom sprawled on the floor, moaning and couldn’t get up.”

“She told me about that, too,” said Karen. “And she was afraid to come to the house.”

“Karen, I’m gonna confess something that’s been eating at me,” Davy says. “I’d driven all night to be here, and Tatiana was at the bedside, she said, “I’m so angry. I can’t talk about it. You don’t care.”

“Tatiana wouldn’t understand, but it was bound to happen. So many other falls.”

“You always know how to provide some perspective, Karen. It’s sad what she had to go through, seeing just what she had feared.”

“She’s was pushing for care 24/7. It’s her bread-and-butter.”

“Figurative language,” Davy grins sadly to himself. “That’s the sad thing about Mom. Sad and un-sad. She never understood jokes. Figurative language. Hey, maybe this was early early onset dementia. She would always break in with some impertinent thing before the punchline.”

“Great training for a comedian.”

“The best. I was already bombing in childhood,” Davy says.

“You gotta bomb before you can kill,” says Karen.

“You know how to put a bright spin.”

“Things are going good for you, Jerry.”

“They’re going good,” Davy says and after a pause continues, “‘They are going good.’ You know, I’d say that to Mom now, and she’d stare with that lasix glint and say what do you mean? So I simplify and just say, ‘Yeah.’ It’s a huge relief, Karen to talk to a normal person and use words like pinion and crucify. Hug me.”

At least their arms touch across the diner table.

“I love you.”

“We’re helping each other. It’s good we get along. You’ve been here for me. There’s been a lot of hurt with Mom. Tatiana is a blessing, she really loves mom I think. And that is not an easy rose to love, with its thorns and all.”

“We’ve gotta count are blessings. Mom’s been around a long time, a lot of extra innings.”

“It’s funny. Tatiana and her boyfriend both love my mom and Tatiana has cooked for her and bathed her these last two years. No easy task. But she remembers Oscar, Tatiana’s boyfriend, more because he dances with her when he helps feed her.”

“They stare at her,” Davy says. “It’s like I’m not even in the room when they come.”

“I know what you mean,” says Karen. “I’ve thought it myself.”

“Only somebody who didn’t live there their whole life with mom could adore her like that.”

“Yeah, with a parent it’s love and rage. We’re gonna be working this out for the rest of our lives.”

“More coffee,” says the waitress. The siblings’ non-response is interpreted as a yes.

When the waitress leaves, Karen asks, “How my mom doing? I say my mom, you know what I mean.”

“She sounds like a little girl in pain. My heart went out of her. And the therapists backed down. That’s what I was so afraid of. She sounded so in pain, like when she used to say, ‘oh dear.’ And all the anxiety in the world distilled into those words and put us on edge. And I was afraid she would persuade them not to get her out of bed. And that’s pretty much what happened. Except for Willow, who’s badass. Thank you, Karen for letting me finish my sentences.”

“Maybe nature and therapy will take it’s course,” Karen says. “Maybe her body works on a different schedule and some things will start to click in.”

“I don’t know, at this point, I just don’t know. There I am talking about her… Mom in that forceful way of hers is just going to talk herself into the horizontal. I told one tender therapist, don’t engage her in conversation. It’s the death star.”

To be continued…

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Hollywood humorist Grady grew up in the heart of Steinbeck Country on the Central California coast. More Bombeck than Steinbeck, Grady Miller has been compared to T.C. Boyle, Joel Stein, and Voltaire. He briefly attended Columbia University in New York and came to Los Angeles to study filmmaking, but discovered literature instead, in T.C. Boyle’s fiction writing workshop at USC. In addition to A Very Grady Christmas, he has written the humorous diet book, Lighten Up Now: The Grady Diet and the popular humor collection, Late Bloomer (both on Amazon) and its follow-up, Later Bloomer: Tales from Darkest Hollywood. (https://amzn.to/3bGBLB8) His humor column, Miller Time, appears weekly in The Canyon News (www.canyon-news.com)