July 19th, 1976
Yesterday, Richard’s mother’s lung collapsed. She is now in intensive care at Fisherman’s Hospital in Marathon, Florida. Richard is somewhere between Miami and Marathon in a rented car. Sandy is on her way to Marathon with her new husband. The family convenes. Everyone seems to know that this is it.
The phone rang early this morning. It was Sandy. Cheerful on the phone to me. Then, Richard still sleepy and hungover trying to comprehend. Yes, this is the phone call you’ve been expecting.
Can anything be so tragic as your mother’s death? A common horror.
Charlie Mae now weighs 65 pounds and has been suffering for months after her colostomy– wounds that will not heal. She believes she has no cancer. The doctor’s opinion was that if she knew that she would never recover from this illness that she would have no will to live. As it is, her eventual death has been no more than a sad slow rot.
Charlie Mae is dying tonight. That bouncy redhead that I first met in the middle of a tomato-fight in the Overseas Lounge in Marathon. Charlie Mae– a legend to her kids. Charlie Mae. Charlie who loved to brawl. I remember sitting up late at night with her drinking Canadian Mist and root beer.