By Coco Jane

Higher, Mommy, higher!
Up and away we go!
Up above our brother
Up above the house
Up above the trees
Up above the world!
We're flying!
Mommy gives us wings
With just a little push
We can swing anything.
We're up!

Chapter 1

By Coco Jane

Two years ago:
Ray's a great guy.
We should visit our dear uncle.
Yes, let's.
Sometime soon.
Message from cousin today:
Uncle Ray died last night.

Chapter 2

By Coco Jane

Ice cream
Antique vase
Lost battle with gravity.

Chapter 4

By Coco Jane

Alzheimer's--disease of family
Everyone suffers from this scourge
Children watch Mom disappear
Grandkids see Grandma fade
Siblings lose sister
All her loved ones
sigh until
she is

Author Notes For my mother.

Chapter 5
Love's Reflection

By Coco Jane

Look in the mirror
With God's eyes,
Not as the world sees.

Chapter 6
Cat Caper

By Coco Jane

Having pets was a joy for us kids;
          not so for Mom.
Every night she tossed our beloved cat Mickey outside,
          even in the cold and snow.
Refuge was an old half-bushel basket under my brother's bedroom window--
          second-story bedroom.
Brother had an idea:
          he strung a rope from basket to window.
Eventually he trained Mickey to ride up in the basket
          to the warmth of a boy's bed for the night.
Right before Mom was ready to let the cat in,
          brother lowered his furry friend back to the snow.
Then Mickey would run to the door to be invited in for breakfast.
         Mom never knew . . . or did she?

Chapter 7

By Coco Jane

Just one little match.
House teeming with livid flames.
Thrill of destruction.

Chapter 8

By Coco Jane

Where's my baby girl?
Yesterday she wore pigtails;
Now, a wedding gown.

Chapter 9
Life in the Pen

By Coco Jane

I awoke to the same view as always: bars and walls. Still in isolation. I stared out, so very much alone.

I stood and shook the bars. I had to have a change. I had to!

"I can't stand it in here anymore!" I cried out to no one.


Or was it? Did I hear a voice from beyond that wall?

A figure approached . . .

A woman. Big. And bleary-eyed.

"You're up early today, Sweetums!"

She reached into my cell. Release at last!

"Let's get you a fresh diaper before breakfast."

Chapter 10
Recipe for Disaster

By Coco Jane

Whaaaat? I gotta give a speeeech?
Octuplet Chefs of Glossophobia, you attack at once
Each to a different part of my body:
Dierdre Dread, you beat my innards
until I need to hurl.
Amber Anxiety, you knead my bladder
until I leak embarrassment.
Teresa Terror, you tighten my diaphragm and separate my breath
until I am choking on my own words.
Helena Horror, you baste my armpits and hands
until I drizzle.
Angela Alarm, you drain every gram of moisture from my mouth
until my teeth threaten to relocate.
Frieda Fright, you frappe my brains
into an icy slush.
Penelope Panic, you scramble my tongue
into a torpid blob.
Tamara trepidation, you whisk my hands and feet.
I'm quaking; I can barely wobble my way to the podium.
Why must you weird sisters torment me in front of all these people?
Don't they see you, beating and kneading and tightening and basting and sponging and frappe-ing and scrambling and whisking my very being into a gelatinous lump of oblivion?
The microphone reaches up its tentacle to strangle me . . .

Chapter 11

By Coco Jane

Puppy ate tin foil.
The vet said, "This too shall pass."
Next day: shiny poop.

Chapter 12

By Coco Jane

Weeks in hospital.
At last my baby is home!

Chapter 13

By Coco Jane

Dad left.
Mom says, "We're free!"
I don't feel free at all.
Every time I sense his absence,
I ache.

Chapter 14
and for all things give thanks

By Coco Jane

An ordinary Sunday . . . until . . .
No--not Dad. He can't be . . .
For a half hour I sob and blubber.
Only when my tears are exhausted do I pack a bag.
Resigned, I get into the car and head east.
(All my life I have prayed in the car.
Let every prayer begin with "Thank you, God . . .")
Leave the husband and kids at home.
Travel to be with my brother and sisters.
Heavy and drained, I make the sign of the cross.
I begin as always, "Thank you, God--"
Now what? I just lost my father. Why do I want to thank
God for taking him
So soon--only 76 years old?
Gone, never to return.
I breathe in the silence.
Viewing the loss with new eyes, I
Eventually figure it out:
"Thank you,
Heavenly Father, for 44 years with my dad."
And I think of all those who
Knew their dads, or lost them as children.
Sunday serenity returns.

Author Notes This actually happened to me on Dec. 12, 2004.

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