“Complicated things break,” I warned my husband five years ago as he gazed at the plumbing store’s touch-free toilet. “There’s an electromagnetic field,” he said, smiling like a 10-year-old about to eat frosted birthday cake. “Just wave your hand to flush.” Who was I to deprive him of joy by insisting on an old-fashioned waste removal system? Of course, the lemon barely flushes, and our replacement is stalled by pandemic supply chain problems. For now, I wave my hand like a frenzied magician seeking the one receptive spot. I hold in my “I told you so.” Marriage is also a complicated thing. — Sharon Forman
Around the Lake
For three decades, Jo Ann and I spent Friday afternoons walking around Minnesota’s Lake Winona. We walked through pregnancies and miscarriages, through homeopathy school and university tenure, through Weight Watchers and evolving wardrobes, through caring for daughters (and sometimes their fathers). And, for 24 of those years, we walked with Jo Ann’s breast cancer. Despite her illness, we planned trips, birthday parties, Passover seders, bat mitzvahs and a daughter’s wedding. In June 2020, we took our last walk around the lake. This February, Jo Ann took her last breath. My life will never be the same. — Colette Hyman
Just Say It
My man chuckled and said, “I was wondering when you’d say it.” The “it” has always been, “God, we are so lucky.” I rarely know when it will come tumbling out: Late winter on Forest Beach in Chatham. Walking by my grandmother’s apartment on Mulberry Street in Chinatown. Minutes after seeing Dylan at the Beacon Theater. A Paris cafe in an arrondissement I can’t recall. And this morning over coffee as we mark 16 years since we traveled to Jiangxi Province, where our daughter first nestled in my arms. Now, she’s a strong young woman. God, we are so lucky. — Carol Young
How to Express the Unspoken
Hugs, kisses, praise don’t come easily to us. Our family practices a stoic, unspoken love. So how do three daughters tell a dying mother how much we adore her? She was turning 92. A Google search revealed that Jackie Kennedy, Audrey Hepburn, Princess Grace and Anne Frank were born the same year as mother. On a card with their pictures, we wrote: “1929 was a good year for producing some elegant, inspiring, strong and classy women … We’re proud one of them belongs to us!” Our mother passed peacefully, days after her birthday. Without embarrassing her, we expressed our love. — Indu Balachandran
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