I am miles from home driving past whirligigs for sale
and berries baked in pies sold off Amish buggies.
A hundred trips have led me past signs
offering farm raised perch and kittens raised by hand.
In a few weeks or maybe months,
Mom and Dad will sell the thirty-year-old home.
I am afraid that no family home means no family.
Memories of our youth will no longer rock
our own children to sleep, the ghosts of our teens
will not keep them awake.
The pool table will have been sold despite parties it once held.
Wide mouthed canning jars will no longer
capture the juiciness of the summer.
And zucchini, fixed 1001 ways, will become a relic of the past.
A picture of Mom and Dad, squinting into the Sunday sun
as they stand on the cracked drive of 724 Lincoln Street,
will be all that is preserved.
Dad’s too wide blue tie stands out against his
white shirt with short sleeves – the style he wore
every day to the shoe store.
Mom still sports white pants – always black or white –
only now a few sizes less.
This day, my baby sister and oldest sister with her baby
march out from the garage to join and wave
as I reverse my course.
It is still tradition
that whoever is home leaves the Sunday paper,
the Saturday cartoons, the Monday morning wash,
to take up their role outside the garage
and stand side by side as the committee of goodbyes.
Today, as I bathe Mom, she is open to my bossiness,
only if Frank Sinatra flies with us, or Crosby croons
a white Christmas into existence in her very bathroom.
She even declares her legs need more lotion.
Dad tells me they did not attend Mass
for the Feast of the Immaculate Conception,
He also confesses to not taking Mom to choir practice.
After lunch in a noisy café, we hang
stockings embroidered with letters on the rocking chair.
Mom repeats names, “E for Ettore, J for Jean.”
Alright, I say, gathering my keys. You take care of each other.
Mom takes Dad in her arms, hugs him too tight.
“Oh we will. We take care of each other.”
Alright, I mutter again, trying to leave.
Mom cuts ahead, opens the door,
a chore she daily performs, expecting a guest who never comes.
She keeps it ajar while I walk out.
When I turn, Mom is standing in the hallway.
Dad is leaning through the open space.
The scene is reminiscent of goodbyes once hailed
from the garage of their family home.
Only now, they are piercing the blandness of a fourth floor hall,
waving wildly, wishing me buon viaggio
in my travels outside of their world.