Creekstone Press Publications
Excerpts from Searching for the April Moon
I knew something was wrong as soon as I saw Mom’s drapes open and her house in darkness. I knew something was wrong and I knew not to run up the ramp and barge in. The police cautioned me only a few weeks earlier. They arrived before me when Mom activated the beeper on her emergency telephone, accidentally, again. She wore the beeper on a cord around her neck and at night tucked the beeper inside her pajama pocket. So it was at night when our telephone rang, severing dreams, releasing adrenaline, that I ran to the kitchen to answer the phone, hoping to interrupt the sequence of numbers before it woke her friend, Ethel, then her friend, Fran, and finally alerted 911.
Sometimes the ringing woke Bill and me four or five times a night. I would hear the beep of the alarm as soon as I picked up the receiver, squinting against the harsh light in the kitchen as I punched in the numbers on my phone to squelch the alarm on Mom’s phone.
She always said, “I didn’t hear a thing,” when I arrived at her home in the middle of the night. She would have had to sit up, transfer herself into her wheelchair, find light switches in the dark and work her way through narrow doorways into the living room to stop the alarm herself. It was probably easier staying in bed, knowing I would arrive as soon as I dressed and ran the two blocks to her home. “What are you doing here?” she asked when she saw me.
“Your alarm woke me. Are you alright?”
“Of course I’m alright.”
After several such episodes, her response was, “I don’t understand. There must be something the matter with that phone.”
“I think you’re accidentally pushing the button when you turn over, Mom.” I took the cord from around her neck and laid it beside her pillow. “Leave it here while you’re sleeping and put it back around your neck in the morning.”
We went through the same conversation several times a night. Each time I arrived at her home the cord was back around her neck with the pendant tucked inside her pajama pocket.
One night, the constant ringing worked into my dreams. I couldn’t get my legs to move. A dream where I could not get to the ringing phone. I don’t know how long it took to wake, but I woke to silence. I jumped up and ran to the phone but I was too late.
As quickly as I dressed and as fast as I ran, the police still beat me. The flashing light on their car broke the stillness of the quiet street. I charged past the two officers and jammed Mom’s key into the lock.
“Stop! You don’t know what you’re going to find on the other side of that door!”
I don’t know if I stepped aside or if I was moved aside, but both officers entered the house ahead of me, slowly opening the door into the porch. Then slowly pushing open the glass paneled door, covered with its crocheted curtain, into the living room. The alarm on the telephone blared louder as doors opened. One of the officers stepped across the living room rug and pushed the flashing light on the telephone. Instantly the alarm stopped. But there was no silence. Music poured from Mom’s bedroom filling every crack in her rundown wartime home. Scraped doorways, bashed furniture, marked walls, all soothed by a piano and orchestra celebrating Beethoven’s Fifth Concerto.
Mom sat on the edge of her bed. The volume on her radio was turned up so loud she did not hear anything but the music. Her eyes were closed. Her body swayed with the intensity of the music. And her left hand, holding an imaginary baton, conducted the orchestra.