FacebookTwitterGoogle+RedditEmail

Life and Death at Exit 34

by MISSY BEATTIE

Sister Laura and her partner Erma had to have two pets euthanized within a two-week period.

Road trip.

Geographical cure tour. And I’m the designated driver.

I can’t remember when we left and had to locate the date on the computer’s screen to see that I’m writing on the 2nd.  I am aware of entering 2012. Time is meaningless at the moment and only will become important, again, when one of us decides we need to go home. (I’ve just learned that one of us, meaning all of us, must go home over the weekend.)

Laura, Erma, their new kitten Maggie Mae, and I left Baltimore, traveling 95-S, drove nine hours, and stopped at a motel at an exit indistinguishable from others. At the end of the ramp, we turned onto a road decorated with strips of drive throughs, motels, gas stations, and empty storefronts.

I thought of a family story that seems ancient due to circumstances beyond my want—one of those travel gems, talked about immediately following and, then, filed away in the recesses to open later. It was, also, something to use in a short story, although I never did.

We were staying in a motel during our annual Thanksgiving trip to Tennessee.  Son Hunter was scouring the exercise room when two teenage girls, whose mother worked in housekeeping, approached.

One of the girls asked, “Where do you live?”

“New York City.  What about you?”

“Exit 34.”

A slice-of-life snapshot.

Just as it is for us, now, four females, including the cat, escaping to exit Maybe.  Soon, we’ll turn the key in the Lesbaru’s ignition and 70-mile-an-hour it back to Realitymore.  During the motoring and after, we’ll examine meanings, machinations, moving, and motivations.

We were with Daddy during his five days of dying. We were with Mother during her nine days of dying. This is not unusual. And, really, there’s nothing unique about caring for a spouse who’s diagnosed with an incurable illness.  One half of a couple provides what’s necessary, unless there’s sudden, unexpected death. Becomes the strong one.  Shift.  Becomes the fragile one. Shift. A dying spouse, weakened by disease, often is courageously accepting.  A healthy widow or widower, fragmented by anguish, eventually decides to live.  Or not.  Such is life. Such is death.

Life is living at Exit 34.  Life is watching a loved one die.  Life is sitting on some step of a staircase called Death. Life means death. And this is natural.

And, then, there’s the unnatural—the taking of life through war. The racket that exploits young men and women who may be ignorantly ultrapatriotic, in desperate need of a job, or somewhere on a what-do-I-do-now-that-I’m-out-of-high-school spectrum that stretches between teenage angst and adult responsibility.  Or irresponsibility.  And plotted, also, without consideration for the never-ending devastation in the lands we invade.

War is a financial product, a derivative of bundled toxins, calamitous to everyone but the corporate giants that profit from maiming and killing.

War is a widow and widower maker, via made-in-America WMD.  Making children orphans and parents childless.

But war can be shaped to normal by smooth spinners who divert attention to the mindless focus of events like presidential debates and election cycles. Like floats on a route of oblivion.

The Empire demands that our tired, poor, and huddled masses are enslaved.  The Empire’s one percent require obeisance from the chained as well as from the politicians in their employ.

It’s a new year, and integrity has been in arrears for more than 200 years.

Hello, Occupy Wall Street.  Play it and pay it forward, backward, and sideways.  Whatever it takes.  Even when sites are raided, shut down, and livestream operators are arrested. Find a way. Hold the big-bank criminals accountable for a crisis that’s crescendo’d crises, ravaging families and our economy.

Time for peace, justice, and equality.  And for the road trip home, another geographical cure.  Let this be the year.

Missy Beattie is in transit. Email:  missybeat@gmail.com     

 

 

 

 

 

 

Missy Beattie has written for National Public Radio and Nashville Life Magazine. She was an instructor of memoirs writing at Johns Hopkins’ Osher Lifelong Learning Institute in BaltimoreEmail: missybeat@gmail.com

More articles by:

CounterPunch Magazine

minimag-edit

Weekend Edition
August 26, 2016
Friday - Sunday
Paul Buhle
In the Shadow of the CIA: Liberalism’s Big Embarrassing Moment
Andrew Levine
How Donald Trump Can Still be a Hero: Force the Guardians of the Duopoly to Open Up the Debates
Rob Urie
Crisis and Opportunity
Louisa Willcox
The Unbearable Killing of Yellowstone’s Grizzlies: 2015 Shatters Records for Bear Deaths
Charles Pierson
Wedding Crashers Who Kill
Richard Moser
What is the Inside/Outside Strategy?
Dirk Bezemer – Michael Hudson
Finance is Not the Economy
Jeffrey St. Clair
Roaming Charges: Bernie’s Used Cars
Margaret Kimberley
Hillary and Colin: the War Criminal Charade
Patrick Cockburn
Turkey’s Foray into Syria: a Gamble in a Very Dangerous Game
Ishmael Reed
Birther Tries to Flim Flam Blacks  
Brian Terrell
What Makes a Hate Group?
Howard Lisnoff
Trouble in Political Paradise
Terry Tempest Williams
Will Our National Parks Survive the Next 100 Years?
Ben Debney
The Swimsuit that Overthrew the State
Ashley Smith
Anti-imperialism and the Syrian Revolution
Andrew Stewart
Did Gore Throw the 2000 Election?
Vincent Navarro
Is the Nation State and Its Welfare State Dead? a Critique of Varoufakis
John Wight
Syria’s Kurds and the Wages of Treachery
Lawrence Davidson
The New Anti-Semitism: the Case of Joy Karega
Mateo Pimentel
The Affordable Care Act: A Litmus Test for American Capitalism?
Roger Annis
In Northern Syria, Turkey Opens New Front in its War Against the Kurds
David Swanson
ABC Shifts Blame from US Wars to Doctors Without Borders
Norman Pollack
American Exceptionalism: A Pernicious Doctrine
Ralph Nader
Readers Think, Thinkers Read
Julia Morris
The Mythologies of the Nauruan Refugee Nation
George Wuerthner
Caving to Ranchers: the Misguided Decision to Kill the Profanity Wolf Pack
Ann Garrison
Unworthy Victims: Houthis and Hutus
Julian Vigo
Britain’s Slavery Legacy
John Stanton
Brzezinski Vision for a Power Sharing World Stymied by Ignorant Americans Leaders, Citizens
Philip Doe
Colorado: 300 Days of Sunshine Annually, Yet There’s No Sunny Side of the Street
Joseph White
Homage to EP Thompson
Dan Bacher
The Big Corporate Money Behind Jerry Brown
Kollibri terre Sonnenblume
DNC Playing Dirty Tricks on WikiLeaks
Ron Jacobs
Education for Liberation
Jim Smith
Socialism Revived: In Spite of Bernie, Donald and Hillary
David Macaray
Organized Labor’s Inferiority Complex
David Cortright
Alternatives to Military Intervention in Syria
Binoy Kampmark
The Terrors of Free Speech: Australia’s Racial Discrimination Act
Cesar Chelala
Guantánamo’s Quagmire
Nyla Ali Khan
Hoping Against Hope in Kashmir
William Hughes
From Sam Spade to the Red Scare: Dashiell Hammett’s War Against Rightwing Creeps
Raouf Halaby
Dear Barack Obama, Please Keep it at 3 for 3
Charles R. Larson
Review: Paulina Chiziane’s “The First Wife: a Tale of Polygamy”
David Yearsley
The Widow Bach: Anna Magdalena Rediscovered
FacebookTwitterGoogle+RedditEmail