A Confirmation of Life
The fiery reds, blazing oranges, and brilliant yellows of the hardwood trees gave an illusion of warmth.
The low blanket of gunmetal gray clouds and the icy wind cut right through that misconception as fast
as it cut to the bone of those unfortunate enough to have stepped outside.
“Hey Arnold, how’s ya Momma and them?”
As usual Arnold wondered why the Southerners in this little back woods town greeted everyone with a
plural inquiry. It was just him and his Momma; had been that way all his life. At least as far back as
he could remember.
“Aw right, and ya’ll?” he replied.
“Me and the missus are good. Heard Ruby was in the hospital. Her heart?”
“They don’t rightly know yet Pastor Tinsley. She’s doing better though; should be going home later
“That’s good son. I’ll keep her in my prayers and will be by to see her later on. Ya’ll need anything?”
Well that’s a loaded question when there was so little they had. His Momma had taught Arnold good
manners and to count his blessings. He would do her proud, no matter what, “No sir, we’re okay.
Thanks for asking.”
“All-righty then. If anything changes, let me know. In the meantime, the Ladies Auxiliary is bringing
supper tonight.” The pastor started to move on down the street in the opposite direction from Arnold.
He turned slightly to offer the standard good-by, “Ya’ll come when ya can?”
Arnold smiled and gave the expected reply, “If we can’t come, we’ll call. Thank you sir; have a good
“You too. God Bless you both”.
Arnold knew his thoughts should be more charitable. The town had been good to him and his
Momma. They had been here for a couple of years now, living out on the old McGarrity place.
Momma cleaned houses for some of the wealthier residents in town. Though curiosity was still high
about the circumstances that brought them here, people were too polite to ask what happened to
Arnold’s father. They were generous at Christmas with bonus money and food. They shared clothing
and blankets through the rummage sales. Arnold wondered what would happen now with his Mother
not doing so good.
As he got to the hospital, trepidation began to fill Arnold. He was suddenly frightened. He felt an icy
dread enshroud him. Trying to shake off the cloak of despair, he raced down the hall to his Mother’s
Doctors and nurses scurried around the bed in a state of efficiently organized chaos. “Clear” came a
deep baritone. Arnold heard a pop-thump as energy surged from the machine to the patient, lifting her
from the bed. There was a piercingly loud monotone beep. “Again,” the doctor said as he raised his
eyes to the monitor. The pop-thump repeated and the alert signal did not change.
As the bedside drama looped again, Arnold was transfixed in the doorway; paralyzed by terror. His
mind telling him to run; his feet were glued to the floor. He was shaking but could not move. He
wanted to cry out but his mouth was cotton dry. He heard a roaring in his ears. His heart beat so fast
he wondered if it would burst from his chest. “Please God. Don’t take my Momma today.”
As suddenly as the fear had descended, peace filled his heart. Arnold felt light and free. He was no
longer afraid. He no longer felt alone. A hand touched his shoulder, “Time to go home son.”
Arnold turned in slow motion. Throwing his arms around her waist, he hugged his Mother fiercely. “I-
I-I thought that was you in there,” he sobbed in to the softness of her red woolen coat. “I thought -
was afraid I had lost you.”
Ruby set him gently back from her and held his shoulders. Her beautiful ice blue eyes, shining and
bright with love and knowledge, bored in to his green ones. “Even if it were me, you are never alone
Arnold. You know that don’t you?”
“Yes Momma.” Arnold reached up to take his Mother’s hand to find only air. It had been an illusion
of warmth and love. She was not there. Slowly, he turned to the room. A ghost of a smile played
across her lips and his mother’s face reflected a peace he had never seen before.
Gliding across the room, Arnold kissed his Mother good-bye for the last time. “I love you Momma.
Rest in peace.”
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