Goodbye, Martha

She was beyond old, and a little deaf. She had grown tired of the cold in Illinois and come to Arizona to warm up. She was a night owl, I could hear her TV when I walked past her apartment on the way to the laundry room.

One day, hearing the radio alarm on when I passed her apartment, I wondered why the alarm was ringing in the middle of the afternoon. I picked up my mail at the communal boxes, and heard the alarm on my way back. I knocked on her door. Nothing. I knocked harder. She came to the door, and looked at me smiling.
“It’s good to have youngsters in this place,” she said. I smiled back, it’s been many years since I could have been a youngster, but to her, I was.
“Your radio alarm is ringing,” I said, “so I came to check on you.”
“It is?” she said, “Well, I wonder what it wants.”
I turned it off for her, and chatted for a few minutes.

canning jarShe asked about the canning jar that sits by the bougainvillea shrubs during the daytime. I explained that it contained a solar battery that charged in the sun, then the jar glowed at night, and I used it to cheer me up in the dark.
“We all need one of those,” she said, “Something that soaks up sun in the day.”
In March, she began to make plans to return to the East.
“I can’t manage by myself anymore,” she said, “so I’m going back to the cold.”
She gave me her ironing board and iron, and I planned on giving her the canning jar, so she could take some Arizona sunshine back with her.
Yesterday, she sat down in her apartment and died of an aneurism. She won’t have to go back to the cold. She won’t have to endure the broiler-heat of July here. I hope that wherever she goes, her generous and cheerful spirit will be happy, and that she will have a bit of Light to enjoy.

–Quinn McDonald is a writer and certified creativity coach. She lives in Mesa, AZ. See her work at (c) Quinn McDonald, 2008 All rights reserved.