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Down (2005)

February 9, 2018

Joel at Lions game

What would I give to believe

like my brother-in-law Joel

that everything is possible

that no matter how far down

we are we can come back

we can always come back?


I think of him watching

another showing of Wizard of Oz

every single time it’s on TV

another James Bond movie

and Batman the rerun or movies

doesn’t matter which


He asks me once a day every day

when we’re going to see Batman

Begins of how about Charlie

and the Chocolate Factory

and which Lions game we’ll see

in November to celebrate his

48th birthday


He stays up every night

late watching TV doing his daily

exercise program his daily

schedule until he just can’t stay up

anymore and finally falls asleep

only to doze off

on and off again

the next day every day

he’s tired all day


He asks me if I can get him

another year of ABC Soaps and

Soap Opera Digest which he tears

pages from scatters over the couch

and floor every week every year

so he won’t miss anything new

so he can crack the latest case

of General Hospital All My

Children One Life to Live


My mother-in-law asks me to help

To tell him I won’t order

soap opera magazines if he doesn’t

clean up all his clippings and

football schedules and daily sports

scores he listens to me always

welcomes me asks how I’m doing

and then how am I doing again

I his lone “buddy”


I can only smile and

think of him listening

to every Tigers game and thinking

they still have a chance to win it all

they still have a chance I think

of us together at the Lions game

when Reggie Brown was crippled

and Barry passed 2000 yards

and the Lions reached the playoffs


Or when he puts his favorite foods

together on the seder plate

and mashes them up with catsup mustard

turkey potatoes “bitter herbs” all of it

after he’s read the four questions

in perfect staccato pronunciation

and laughs when he sings the

chorus of Dayeynu


I smile, not trying to imagine

how it felt for his parents

to bear their first child in 1957

with Down Syndrome an extra

chromosome number 21 and I can’t

imagine that the average age

of death is forty-nine

is next year


What would I give to believe

like Joel that we’re never down

that there’s always a chance?

He is my Peter Pan

always looking forward

to another game

another win. When he and I

left a Lions game against Miami

in 2000, down

by three touchdowns

and a field goal

three minutes to go

all I could hear was heartbreak

in his voice as he begged me to

take him by the hand and

get us to my car fast

so he could hear us

make our comeback

to erase the impossible

lead to let us win

again just let us win


From Outlive Me

Copyright 2005

by Arnie Goldman


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