My mother’s breath fills my ear as she whispers from her deathbed, “That goddam bitch Joan Baez ruined your life.”
She has told me this many times. She isn’t senile; this is a theme of hers. I jet back to Massachusetts, and though she lingers longer than anyone predicts, in Florida a few weeks later, she dies in her sleep. The prior evening, when her nurse asked if she wanted anything in the morning, Muriel joked, “I’ll have a dry Martini.”
So my brother and sister and I bury our mother with a fifth of Boodles Gin, a pint of Martini and Rossi Dry Vermouth, and a jar of green olives. Had we buried her with pearl onions, she’d have risen from the dead. “Who ordered a goddam Gibson?” she’d say. When I share my resurrection scheme with my sister, she thinks I am kidding, but Muriel lived a life nourished by spite; who knows how long enmity can animate the soul?