12:15:26 pm on
Wednesday 24 Jul 2024

She Wept
AJ Robinson

Greg Robinson with children Caleb, Christina and Jenni.

One of the popular games of the 1980s was Trivial Pursuit. I remember one of the religion questions from that game, “What is the shortest verse in the Bible?” The answer, which I did not know, is “Jesus wept.”

Dave told mom.

Just last week, mother wept. It was all due to quite the short verse, short statement. My brother Dave spoke it.

We got some bad news the weekend before; my brother, Greg, had passed. Dave decided to go down to Naples, Florida, and visit our mom. He needed to tell her what happened to Greg.

Well, as it turned out, events went from bad to very bad to incredibly bad in a matter of days. On Saturday, our brother Greg, went into the hospital, as he was not doing well. The chemo and radiation treatments he’d been getting for his lung cancer had left him weak and, on that day, his wife, Anne, made the decision to get him to the hospital.

Their daughter, Christina, called me in tears. She told me the news; I tried to be supportive. I knew this meant his cancer was advancing faster than expected.

Oh, if only I’d known how truly fast it was doing so. On Sunday Greg was moved to hospice, which shocked all of us. Back in December, when he’d had the operation for the cancer the physician said he should have three to five years.

Although not much time, it would at least allow him to spend time with his children and grandchildren, including little Henri, who, soon to turn two, would get a chance to know his grandpa. More important, our mom would not have to face the heartache of losing another child. Granted, she’s doing okay, no major health issues, but she is ninety-five years old. In a contest between her and Greg my money was on him.

Tuesday morning, I got up and turned on my phone. There was a voicemail from Dave asking me to call him. He sounded quite upset; I could only guess at what had happened.

I called and he gave me the news. I wept. We made the decision that all three of us, Dave, Danny and I, would visit mom the next day. The drive down to Naples was long and cold; I was glad to have Jo Ann with me.

We stopped at the home of Greg and Anne to bring flowers and cards. Then we caravanned to the nursing home where mom was convalescing. The three of us were ushered into her room, but it took a moment for her to register who we were. Then Dave told her the news. Greg was gone.

The news was painful.

Unfortunately, due to her confusion and the fact she is hard of hearing he had to say it several times. This was painful for him. He was reduced to tears, as she finally understood. Then mom wept.

At that moment, I wanted to die. Never in my life had I known such pain to my soul. We tried to offer comfort, but mom would have none of it; her grief was beyond measure, as she had outlived another child, a curse no parent ever wants to experience, once, let alone twice.

The physician gave her a mild sedative and then we rolled her wheelchair down the hall to the visiting room. Jo Ann, Christina, Nick and Shirley, girlfriend of Dave, were waiting there. We sat for a time. It was not an easy meeting.

Mom wept off and on. This got us sobbing along with her. At least we were able to be together as a family and console and support each other.

All too soon, it was time to go. Most of us had long drives ahead of us to get home. Next, were the funeral arrangements to complete.

As Nick and Heidi had flights back home to New York and Massachusetts, it was decided to hold the service for Greg on Friday. We returned to Naples for it, the turnout was quite good; Greg was well-loved.

I read a short tribute I’d written. Then we went to their house for the wake. Mom did not attend. She was too weak to travel and we, collectively, made the decision that the stress of it would be too much for her.

Saturday, before heading for home, I stopped to see mom. The first thing she asked about was the funeral. Somehow, I found the strength to get through a rundown of the sad event.

We shared a few tears, mom and me. Some tender words, too, were shared. Mom asked of Penny and Jackie and wanted to know how Damian was doing. Before I knew it, it was time for me to go.

This time I made a point of many kisses and multiple declarations of love. These she reciprocated. I left looking stoic and strong on the outside, a man of cool determination and resolve, but a weeping little boy inside.

Done as expected.

I guess that’s what a good son is supposed to do. I know it’s what Greg would have done. It’s likely what mom expected.


Combining the gimlet-eye of Philip Roth with the precisive mind of Lionel Trilling, AJ Robinson writes about what goes bump in the mind, of 21st century adults. Raised in Boston, with summers on Martha's Vineyard, AJ now lives in Florida. Working, again, as an engineeer, after years out of the field due to 2009 recession and slow recovery, Robinson finds time to write. His liberal, note the small "l," sensibilities often lead to bouts of righteous indignation, well focused and true. His teen vampire adventure novel, "Vampire Vendetta," will publish in 2020. Robinson continues to write books, screenplays and teleplays and keeps hoping for that big break.

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