Sunday, October 25, 2009

Life on a Roller Coaster by Margaret Ullrich

Paul's animated cartoon 'The Bicycle Lesson' has been accepted for screening at 'The 2009 Silver Wave Film Festival' in New Brunswick. Also, Dustin Anderson of 'International Bike Shorts' which were screened last week. They might use it in next year's 'International Shorts 2010' and be included in their tour.

Ma would've gotten a kick out of all this. She hardly ever got out of College Point, a small town in Queens, New York. She liked to hear about our small successes, even though she'd never heard of half the places we mentioned.


Now I can't tell her any of our news.


Wednesday, October 14 had been damp and cold. We were going to take a small drive, but decided against it. So I walked BoBo and went about our usual business.

Bobo was still enjoying the turkey and was up to his old tricks. He had this game he liked to play with me. I usually sit in the right corner of the couch, near the table and lamp. Whenever I got up, BoBo liked to steal that spot, then give me a "Who me?" look when I returned.

After lunch I picked the last of our vegetables and cleaned the yard while Paul took BoBo for a walk. When I went to the kitchen, I noticed the light on our phone was blinking. My sister had phoned. Ma had passed away. Our brother George had tried to called her from work. When he didn't get an answer, he drove for an hour and a half from Manhattan to College Point. It looked like her heart had stopped.


In a way Ma's death was a blessing and an answer to her prayers. My parents had married in 1948 and immigrated to America in 1950. Pop passed away this past January. Pop's last years hadn't been good. He was in poor health with heart and kidney problems, arthritis and diabetes. The days had turned into an endless round of doctors' visits. Ma also hated the winter weather in New York and always said she'd never gotten used to it.

During one of my parents' visits, Vince Leah and his wife died within a few days of each other. Since he'd worked with Vince at The Free Press, Paul had gone to the funeral. I remember Ma saying how lucky Mrs. Leah was, that she would want to go the same way, too.


Most of the relatives Ma's age had passed away. Ma kept to herself, no matter how much we encouraged her to make friends or to at least go to the Senior Centre which was a block away. My sister and brother took that into account and just planned for a 1 day wake instead of the traditional 3 day viewing. The funeral was scheduled for Saturday.

When we talked to my siblings, my sister Rose, who had moved out years ago and is married, was calm. George had never married and had lived with our parents all his life. He was very upset, although he was trying his best to regain his composure. He explained how he tried to call Ma several times, but there was no answer. He rushed home and found her dead. He called the cops, who came and left. Ma's doctor signed the death certificate. George kept repeating, "It's the end of everything."


Life can be weird. Ma's older by 2 years sister, Stella, still lives in Malta. She has survived her sister and 2 younger brothers. George told me that she'd just had a pacemaker put in.

Our cousin John will break the news to her gently.

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