“Complicated things break down,” I warned my husband five years ago as he stared at the touch-free toilet of the plumbing store. “There’s an electromagnetic field,” he said, smiling like a 10-year-old about to eat a frozen birthday cake. “Just wave your hand to flush.” Who was I to take his joy away from him by insisting on an old-fashioned garbage disposal system? Of course, the lemon barely flushes and our replacement is brought to a halt by pandemic problems in the supply chain. For now, I wave my hand like a mad wizard looking for the only receptive place. I’m holding back my ‘I told you so’. Marriage is also a complicated thing. — Sharon Forman
around the lake
For three decades, Jo Ann and I spent Friday afternoons hiking around Lake Winona in Minnesota. We walked through pregnancies and miscarriages, through homeopathy school and college tenure, through Weight Watchers and evolving wardrobes, taking care of daughters (and sometimes their fathers). And 24 of those years we ran with Jo Ann’s breast cancer. Despite her illness, we planned trips, birthday parties, Passover seders, bat mitzvahs and a daughter’s wedding. In June 2020 we took our last walk around the lake. In February, Jo Ann breathed her last. My life will never be the same again. — Colette Hyman
Just say it
My husband chuckled and said, “I was wondering when you’d say it.” The “it” has always been, “God, we’re so lucky.” I rarely know when it will tumble out: late winter at Forest Beach in Chatham. Walking past my grandmother’s apartment on Mulberry Street in Chinatown. Minutes after seeing Dylan at the Beacon Theatre. A cafe in Paris in an arrondissement I can’t remember. And this morning over coffee, as we traveled 16 years ago to Jiangxi Province, where our daughter first nestled in my arms. Now she is a strong young woman. God, we are so lucky. — Carol Young
How to express the unspoken?
Hugs, kisses, praise don’t come easy for us. Our family practices a stoic, unspoken love. So how do three daughters tell a dying mother how much we love her? She turned 92. A Google search revealed that Jackie Kennedy, Audrey Hepburn, Princess Grace and Anne Frank were born as mothers in the same year. On a card with their photos, we wrote: “1929 was a good year for producing elegant, inspiring, strong and stylish women…We are proud to have one of them as ours!” Our mother passed away peacefully days after her birthday. Without embarrassing her, we expressed our love. — Indu Balachandran