Death Of God

Dan Berkey

© Copyright 2002 by Dan Berkey

My father snowblowed the driveway and hammered in his shop while my mother cooked. I cleaned, watched TV and played in the snowbound backyard with Rig, my dog. It was unusually peaceful. For several days, I reveled. It was the time of year for me as it was for many people for rejoicing and being glad to be a child of god. Christmas.

Till the One, 1963, Excelsior, Minnesota when everything changed, I was almost a happy kid.

The kitchen bubbled and fumed, flour flung the air, sweets abounded, heavy pots clanged. By the morning of the day of Christmas Eve, the long kitchen table was crammed with racks of cooling loaves of Stollen, a traditional Nordic Christmas Bread, hundreds of many colored cookies, and bowls of steaming hamhocks, for ‘silta’, all ready for the grinder. The air was sweet. My father did the grinding at my mother’s bidding.

 "He makes the greatest Silta!" she said. I hated it. A gray, gelatinous meat pudding. My father made it every year. I never ate it. He and my mother loved it.

 At Christmas my mother moved into the kitchen. She even slept there, and everything temporarily changed. The Nutso hysterics that dominated the household year-round suddenly dwindled to minor tiffs.

My mother’s schizophrenic.

 It was weird. "She probably wouldn’t go off if left to her cooking," I thought, but, my father and I operated under the assumption she might, at any moment, so we attended to the fear accordingly. She conducted the Christmas operation & we any tune; before the music hit...we danced for deranged marionettes on eggshells. We careened through the house with our supplies for cleaning, or repairs’, trying to accomplish whatever was needed, as quickly and quietly as possible. We spoke in whispers, if at all, and only when we passed each other outside, or in the basement, or upstairs, never in sight or ear-shot of the kitchen.

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