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Ron Theel

the long goodbye

Long Hallway by Jasper AI

take her just take her tell her you’re going for a ride it’ll be easier that way don’t tell her she’s going to stay there you can come back here later for her things you have no choice trust me i’ve helped others i don’t think the social worker meant for those words to sound so harsh but they cut into my heart like a razor blade i felt like i was plotting the kidnapping of my own mother robert frost understood the meaning of home in his story the death of the hired man “home is the place, where when you have to go there, they have to take you in…something you somehow haven’t to deserve” that meaning is now twisted distorted in my mind sometimes home may be a place that doesn’t deserve you social worker you sit here in your distressed leather chair telling me what to do if the square peg doesn’t fit the round hole it’s simple change the shape of the peg or change the hole so that the peg fits in you tell me what to do but you ignore all of my trampled feelings the nursing home administrator speaks your mom at 2am wandering the hallways crying like a lost child looking for her home knocking on doors more crying   pseudobulbar affect safety concerns awakening the other residents increased paranoia  sundown syndrome nights are always the worst your mom can’t live here anymore her alzheimer’s disease is far too advanced as you know we’re an assisted living facility and not equipped to handle such cases i’m so sorry i keep thinking my god she’s lived here for ten years i have to move her after ten years the admin stares at her laptop you and the social worker share those words the terms roll off your tongue as if you’re reading from a medical transcript  but what do those words mean to me and to mom find another place the admin repeats your mom’s needs can’t be met here they’re ready for her at the va hospital they have a memory wing better suited to her stage of the disease have you admin visited this place well i have i’ve seen the electronic locks on doors key codes key cards pass codes safety is paramount i get it but it’s not right that at-home feelings get locked out a large activity room with a small wall-mounted tv coloring sheets scattered on the craft table 22 souls staring into space the final morning I sit with mom at her kitchen table nibbling on stale donuts i’m trying to explain to her that today we’re going to visit another place you’ll like it there (lie) it’s nice (lie) you’ll make new friends there (lie again) she agrees to the visit i fear i’ve become a compulsive liar is lying to someone you love somehow less of a lie I can only hope so on the way out we pass vic standing in the hallway vic the tall man with wavy white hair vic the piano player mom here’s your friend vic he always looks out for you mom silence as we walk through the doorway vic calls out to me now you be sure to bring her back if only i could


About the writer:
Ron Theel is a freelance writer, mixed media artist, and photographer living in Syracuse, New York. His work has been published in The Raven’sPerch, The Bluebird Word, and forthcoming in Beyond Words and Pithead Chapel.

Image: Long Hallway by Jasper AI from a prompt by O:JA&L staff that included the words “In the style of Vincent Van Gogh.” Free license available on request.

OJAL Art Incorporated, publishing since 2017 as OPEN: Journal of Arts & Letters (O:JA&L) and its imprint Buttonhook Press, is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit corporation supporting writers and artists worldwide.

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