Conduct

We’d sit at stoplights and classical music would play
on the public radio station to which she still donated.
Again she’d begin mimicking an orchestra conductor
using huge, exaggerated hand and arm gestures.
I’d glance at her and notice the people in the next car
looking over at her, pointing and laughing.
Ashamed, I’d turn off the radio.
She’d stop immediately, sit silently, thankfully.
I wished not to be associated with this theatricality
that strangers found so funny about us.

This went on for every doctor’s appointment I drove her to,
and she had so many of those appointments near the end,
her age dictating she have more and more ailments.

Finally, I stopped turning on the car radio when she was with me.
I couldn’t handle the feeling of being seen as so foolish
every time she entertained everyone around us watching.
Absent music, she’d sit with her hands clasped in her lap,
gazing ahead, quiet and sedate, not drawing attention to us.

Now when I’m on the way to my growing number of doctors’ appointments,
when I sit at a stoplight, I remember her as the radio music conductor,
and I smile and mimic her huge movements while
people in cars around me perhaps watch me as if I’m crazy,
and maybe I am, but I really don’t give a damn.

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