The Governor

When I was young, and I’d ask mom a question she couldn’t answer, she would tell me to ask the governor. That was dad. I don’t know why she called him that. She is gone now, so I cannot ask. And dad doesn’t remember.

Mom referred to dad in this way only for tough questions. For everything else, she just called him Mart.

My queries at the time weren’t big, like the meaning of life, or what I should be when I grow up, or how to solve world hunger. They were difficult questions in a different way. Mostly about things that needed fixing. Why the car wouldn’t start. How to move the seat on my bike. Or repair a broken necklace. Of course, there was math. And directions to anywhere and from anywhere. Oh,and gas money. Any money, really. For these questions, I was sent to the governor. For everything else, mom usually knew.

Now the governor is old. And I have so many things to ask him. But he has forgotten most of the answers. Or maybe just doesn’t feel like telling. I don’t know.

Most of my prior government inquires have been handled. I stopped doing math. For the most part, at least. I use a calculator when I am stumped. Or ask one of the kids. When something needs fixing, there is Craigslist. Or a mechanic, a jeweler. GPS for directions. I don’t like to drive anyway, so gas money isn’t much of an issue. And when it is, my husband is pretty good at filling the tank. He’s good for the money, too. So I’m ok there.

No, now my questions are a new kind of difficult.

“What was it like when you met mom? Did you know she was the one? Do you remember her laugh? Her smile? Did you always want a daughter and were you happy when I was born? Did you like raising us, dad? Was it fun?” He smiles when I ask him.

“I don’t know Maribeth,” he says. The governor isn’t talking. He looks out the window, mostly. Out into the distance at something I can’t see. Sometimes he laughs. But not the happy kind of laugh, the nervous kind.

He stays busy. Helping to set the table or take out the trash. Little things that need to be done at the place where he lives now. They like him. That’s good. There is not enough universal love for our politicians. But, here, for the governor, there is. So it seems.

“What do you think about now? Now that mom is no longer in pain? Do you remember the good times? Or do you just keep replaying the end over and over again?” I do that, too, dad. I can’t help it.

This is what I want to ask him, to tell him. But the governor seems so vulnerable now. And I am afraid of the answers.

When I visit, we mostly just sit. I scroll through pictures on my phone. “This is my son,” I say, when I find a good photo. A silly one. Or one that makes me proud. “Oh, yeah?,” he says. I am not sure if he knows. They are his grandchildren.

I settle in the chair next to his rocker. Or keep him company at the table when he eats. He tells me I should go. That I must be busy. There is probably something I should do.

I want to explain that I like to be near him. He has memories of mom all over him. I can feel them. And it is comforting to me. But I’ll cry if I tell him. Governors don’t like that.

I don’t visit enough. He lives far away and my own life is so busy now. I do what I can. He doesn’t ask for much.

Always, though, before I leave, before I go, he tells me. “I miss her,” he says and makes a strange kind of squeak, from the back of his throat. I think this is how governors mourn. But I’m not really sure. He is the only governor I know.

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Scroll to Top