In the Driveway with Dad

Marianne Peel

Marianne Peel

In the Driveway with Dad was accepted as part of the MSU Library Short Edition call for work on the theme of “recovery,” in coordination with the MSU Broad Art Museum's exhibit of Beverly Fishman's art, also called Recovery. After having taught middle and high school English for 32 years, Marianne is now nurturing her own creative spirit. She has spent three summers in Guizhou Province, teaching best practices to teachers in China. She received Fulbright-Hays Awards to Nepal (2003) and Turkey (2009). Marianne participated in Marge Piercy's Juried Intensive Poetry Workshop (2016). Marianne's poetry appears in Muddy River Poetry Review, Belle Reve Literary Journal, Jelly Bucket Journal, Gyroscope Review, among others. Marianne was a finalist for the Naugatuck River Review Narrative Poetry Contest (2020), and she was longlisted for the Alpine Fellowship Writing Prize (2021). She has a collection of poetry, No Distance Between Us, published in 2021 by Shadelandhouse Modern Press. Marianne is a graduate of Michigan State University.

I need you to know that what your mom just told you, about making dinner last night, just isn't true. She hasn't made dinner in almost a year. Can't even put a bologna sandwich together, let alone a good meatloaf smeared with ketchup. Has forgotten how to make out checks. I'm worried. Worried that I will pass before she does. She just can't take care of herself anymore. We're not eating much anymore. I can do poached eggs. Grilled cheese. But it's usually burnt. I can do tomato soup. I miss her stuffed cabbage. I don't let her anywhere near a knife. Afraid she'll cut herself up good. Coring a cabbage is just too hard. I been looking into nursing homes. You know, the kind that's an apartment with a pull cord. Just in case. Thought we could live there, like that, until she gets so bad I just can't take care of her no more. It's hard to wash her hair. I try to make sure she's clean and presentable. But sometimes she just wants to sleep. And changing her clothes, getting those shirts over her head or those pants over her legs is just too hard. I know she'd like her fingernails painted. And I tried it once. Smeared that Sweetheart Red all over the tips of her fingers. Had to scrub it off with nail polish remover. My hands just shake too much. Most of the time your mother just sits. Falls asleep a lot during the day. Mixes up her days and nights. Wants to go out for pancakes at seven in the evening One time she even took off all her clothes in the living room. Then she said she was ready to go out to eat. Took me forever to get her clothes back on her. She's better when I just give her the pain medicine when she asks for it. Sometimes, I try to slip her a half pill. But I know she's hurting and end up giving her the whole damn thing. And that cookbook you brought me, the one you're holding in your hands. Just take that on home with you. You know damn well I won't use it. You know I don't read nothing but the newspaper. And these days I even fall asleep doing that. Thanks for the gift certificate to Red Lobster. She likes their stuffed flounder and those cheddar biscuits. She always orders a Manhattan or two when we go to Red Lobster. Says they soothe her nerves. Make her less jittery. And thanks for making her meatloaf recipe while you were here. I'll be enjoying cold meatloaf sandwiches with lots of ketchup. For the next couple nights. That's some good eating.

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