[The auction for this Significant Object, with story by Gabe Levinson, has ended. Original price: $2.00. Final price: $7.00. Significant Objects will donate the proceeds of this auction to 826 National.]
Mom was thrashing so violently the night she died that she broke through her straps; her head repeatedly smacked the table while her muscles went renegade. By the time I saw how messed up this situation was, it was too late. I was in a fit of hysterics, the laughing kind, and I was helpless to save her.
Just a few seconds before, I was pouring a cup of tea and everything was fine… as fine as it could be when you’re spoon-feeding tea to your mom. One day her muscles started giving out. It’s been a year since I moved back home and the most dignified moment of her day is when she’s strapped upright at the dining room table for tea.
I don’t know what compelled me to look at the trivet before I set the teapot down just then, I really don’t. You know how it is when things have always been there. I grew up in this house, but for the first time in my life, for no good reason, I took notice: it’s a cartoon of a guy and girl pointing to a clock, looking at you with worry on their faces, pleading in their eyes, above and below this image it reads Now is the Time To Live Tomorrow’s Memories. I imagined someone picking up a hot plate and learning a valuable life lesson: Hey man, take it easy, cool it bro, now is the time to live tomorrow’s memories. And that’s what set me off: a hot plate telling me to cool it. I fell to the floor, teapot in hand, laughing so hard. I know how dumb it was, I know, but at the time it struck me as the funniest thing in the world.
Getting splashed with boiling water when I landed brought me to, but only for a second. Because then I picked up on the sound Mom’s head was making every time she struck the table: THOOMP followed by TA-GLONK (that being the trivet, which would jump in the air with each THOOMP and clatter down with its own TA-GLONK). The rhythm of it all just about did me in; the whole scene playing out like a Don Martin symphony: THOOMP TA-GLONK THOOMP TA-GLONK THOOMP TA-GLONK SKLORTCH.
It was the SKLORTCH that sobered me up; after that there was no THOOMP, no TA-GLONK, nothing. I picked myself up off the floor. Mom was facedown, immobile, on the table. I pulled her head up as gently as possible but something tugged back. I pulled a little harder and cried out when I saw it: a screw embedded so deep into the middle of her forehead that it yanked clean from the table. My mother the unicorn. HA!
Maybe you had to be there.