Police originally arrested Dulake and seized his phone in February after a fellow Grindr user showed him 'vile' child abuse images online.
There was the first, flip decision to do it, followed by the second, more serious decision to actually do it, and then the long third beginning, composed of weeks of shopping and packing and preparing to do it. And yet, here was my mother at the Mayo Clinic getting worn out if she had to be on her feet for more than three minutes. Eddie asked her when we came upon a row of them in a long carpeted hall. Just for a minute, said my mother, almost collapsing into one, her eyes meeting mine before Eddie wheeled her toward the elevator. shed ask again, and on and on and on, each time moving her hands farther apart. It was the ten thousand named things in the Tao Te Chings universe and then ten thousand more. She lived in five different states and two countries before she was fifteen. We made them into toysbeds for our dolls, ramps for our cars.
There was nothing that could have been done, he told us. Radiation might reduce the size of the tumors that were growing along the entire length of her spine. A year later, he and my mom took the twelve-thousand-dollar settlement he received and with it bought forty acres of land in Aitkin County, an hour and a half west of Duluth, paying for it outright in cash. There was nothing to dif- ferentiate it from the trees and bushes and grasses and ponds and bogs that surrounded it in every direction for miles.
I could see her naked back, the small curve of flesh beneath her waist. He explained that they would not attempt to cure her, that she was incurable. They could try to ease the pain in her back with radiation, he offered. The winter after my mother married him, Eddie fell off a roof on the job and broke his back. Our forty acres were a perfect square of trees and bushes and weedy grasses, swampy ponds and bogs clotted with cattails.
Such as if a doctor told you that you were going to die soon, youd be taken to a room with a gleaming wooden desk. We were led into an examining room, where a nurse instructed my mother to remove her shirt and put on a cotton smock with strings that dangled at her sides. Id fainted oncefurious, age three, holding my breath because I didnt want to get out of the bathtub, too young to remember it myself. Shed held out her hands and watched me turn blue, my mother had always told me. She held it stiffly with the other hand, trying to calm it. She wore a purple hat and a handful of diamond rings. She spoke in Spanish to the people gathered around her, her family and perhaps her husband. If I looked at him we would both crumble like dry crackers. Paper roses, paper roses, oh how real those roses seemed to be, she sang. Look both ways, shed call after us as we fled like a pack of hungry dogs.
All that day of the green pantsuit, as I accompanied my mother and stepfather, Eddie, from floor to floor of the Mayo Clinic while my mother went from one test to another, a prayer marched through my head, though prayer is not the right word to describe that march. I couldnt let myself believe it then and there in that elevator and also go on breathing, so I let myself believe other things instead. Id asked my mother all through my childhood, making her tell me the story again and again, amazed and delighted by my own impetuous will. She sat with her hands folded tightly together and her ankles hooked one to the other. In reply, he took a pencil, stood it upright on the edge of the sink, and tapped it hard on the surface. One jolt and your bones could crumble like a dry cracker. Later we came out to wash our hands and faces, watching each other in the bright mirror. I sat between my mother and Eddie in my green pantsuit, the green bow miraculously still in my hair. There was a woman who had an arm that swung wildly from the elbow. There was a beautiful dark-haired woman who sat in a wheelchair. Eddie sat on my other side, but I could not look at him. A song without words, but my mother knew the words anyway and instead of answering my question she sang them softly to me. My mothers name was called then: her prescriptions were ready. They would give us five-dollar bills to buy candy from the store so they could be alone in the apartment with our mom.