Monday, May 12, 2014


We walked into the small bedroom in silence. The wall behind the headboard was adorned with cowboy hats, all wrapped in protective plastic. In the corner a beautiful oak display case was filled with expensive toy cars in pristine condition. The man on the bed had smooth skin of an almost translucent quality. His tousled white hair looked fine and silky and rested on a small pillow on top of a larger pillow. His chin rested on a rolled up green washcloth under which his ancient hands, covered with age spots and signs of recent bleeding, lay crossed. Paula bent down and touched his hands then ran her finger along the bridge of his nose. She began to cry again and I put my arms around her. I could feel her tremble. The room was littered with medical equipment, all quiet, as if sitting in silent respect for the man they once hummed and beeped and toiled in service of.

I could hear the labored breathing of Paula’s mother as she shuffled into the room, her oxygen hose trailing behind her, and stood by the other side of the bed. “He lived a good life.” She bent down and kissed his forehead.

“Yes mom, he lived a full life.” I held Paula tighter. She had stopped trembling. After a bit she started to cry and leaned back into me. I squeezed her and kissed the top of her head.

A tall man in blue scrubs walked into the room, just there to “pay my respects.” He was followed in by two women in bright maroon print scrubs who had come for the same purpose.

Eventually we walked back into the living room and sat waiting for the people from the mortuary to come for the body. It was the first time I can recall being in that room without the TV on.

Copyright 2014 Barry Keller. All rights reserved.