Smoking in the girls’ room, sneaking a drink, napping
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The cataracts give her an otherworldly countenance, like a blind prophet who gazes more easily into the past than into the present. She is otherworldly, because she isn’t a part of this time where I dwell — not fully. She floats closer to us and then away again before we can grasp her.
I was six years old when I became aware that death was something that would happen to me. I was in the car with my mom, in the backseat because she followed the rules, and we were on our way home from the grocery store.
We rent a condominium together, my eighty-six-year-old widowed mother and I. Sometimes she summons me from her bedroom at the end of the hall. I have learned to guess from her tone what it is she wants.
My tester asks me to take a seat in the waiting room while she reviews my score. She wants to see if I have missed anything. I want to tell her I missed my fifties, skipped that whole section of my life, lived anesthetized for a decade, ten years on autopilot — years you think will continue to replicate themselves, dull and identical, until you die. Then the serious aging starts, and you know your fifties as gold poorly spent.
Self-surrendering to prison, saving a life, wishing to have said “I don’t,” instead of, “I do”
I wonder if my relationship with my mother will improve as her dementia progresses. It would make both our lives simpler. I also wonder how long it will be before I forget what a mango is. Before my home is festooned with post-it notes. Before all my mother’s deficiencies become mine.
So, yes, the NFL and NCAA have instituted stiff penalties for helmet-to-helmet hits and even redesigned kickoffs to reduce high-speed collisions. But, again, all of this only helps limit concussions. The problem is that the permanent brain injuries arise in part because of those subconcussive hits, the ones players receive nearly every single play, and there’s no way to engineer those out. The tackle will always be part of the game.