perry2- sep 06 B&W

cover photo by Nicole deHaven


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?