The Tears We Never Cried is a different kind of love story. Alzheimer’s is a difficult diagnosis but during one year in the life of a mother and daughter, the darkness of the disease is mixed with the happiness of being with those you love, the joy of discovery, a secret threated by failing memory, and the promise of romance.
“…A masterful, fast paced plot and a true to life heart wrenching story….” Wendy Taylor
Here’s an excerpt from:
The Tears We Never Cried
I remember the moment it happened. I had barely pulled away from the curb, done a quick shoulder check, and that’s when life broadsided me.
I was thirty-nine, coincidentally exactly forty weeks from my fortieth birthday. I’ve lived forever since that moment, or so it seemed. Even though it was really only a year and change out of my life, that day that began it all.
It was a day like any other except … I swear the ring on my phone was louder than normal. And Mother’s voice was strident and demanding.
“Cassie, you best get over here now. I’ve lost my best pen and they’ve taken my Christmas cards away.”
I had no idea what she was talking about, but the panic in her voice was real and like nothing I had heard before.
“Cassandra McDowall?” The disembodied voice was no longer my mother’s, but instead one that was male and full of authority.
“Yes.” Somehow my fingers were already knotting in trepidation of what he might want.
“This is Tod Rushinski, staff sergeant with the Regina City Police.”
My palms began to sweat.
“Your mother is Jessica Jane McDowell?”
“Yes.” Fortunately it was the only word required for it was
the only word I could choke out. The police never phoned for a good reason.
“We have your mother here at the station.”
“My mother? Is she all right?” Images of my tiny mother, cuffed and chained, surrounded by burly police officers poised to pounce at her slightest move sent shock waves through me. I imagined the terror on her face, her usually neatly coiffed hair askew. Horror reels played through my mind. Mother hurt, injured, attacked by unknown thugs.
Elder abuse, rape, mugging.
Mother, her coral pink lipstick smeared across one crinkled cheek, swinging her purse and being taken down and left bruised and alone by a dumpster.
Who could have done this to her? What had happened? I couldn’t choke out the question. Instead I had a chokehold on the steering wheel.
“She was detained at a department store. Store security stopped her for shoplifting.”
“Shoplifting. No. Not Mom.”
“Two boxes of Christmas cards. I’m sorry. I’m not meaning to frighten you. The store security called us because she appeared confused.” There was a short silence and I could hear Mother say something in the background. “Miss McDowall, I’m sorry to say this, but we were only called because your mother wouldn’t give more than her first name. I suspect she’d forgotten. We didn’t get her full name until after we brought her to the station.”
“That can’t be,” I finally mouthed. I wasn’t sure if those words were actually audible. Mother knew her name and the names of each of her ancestors back five generations. My heart hammered as I thought of how frightened Mother was and how alone she must have felt.
“We have her here because no one knew where she belonged. We’re obviously not going to book her for anything. But lost seniors aren’t issues that department store security deal with.”
“She’s under arrest?” I still couldn’t focus on the other word: lost. Not Mother. That was impossible. And yet something told me, some quiet little voice, that it was completely possible. Mother hadn’t been herself lately. Something wretched deep inside me—something I couldn’t identify that was taking me to a dark possibility I couldn’t comprehend.
“No, of course not. Normally I’d get your address and we’d drive her home. But there’s been a rash of traffic accidents. The weather has every spare officer I have on the streets.” He hesitated as if he were oddly reluctant to indulge me with further details. “Could you come down?”
“Of course she’ll come down.” Mother’s voice insisted in the background, a note of frustration in her clear-pitched voice that had once been lead soprano in the local choir.
I ended the call without waiting to see if the faceless Tod Rushinski might have more to say. The entire conversation took all of a minute to turn my life on its head and have me charging through rush-hour traffic like the speed demon I wasn’t.
Speed didn’t adapt well to a prairie winter that was sheeting intersections with ice. I put my foot on the gas, ignored the brake and fishtailed through the intersection to a concerto of honking horns. I swung a wide right and wrestled the car out of a skid that threatened to take the bumper off a parked car. Ten minutes later I was parked and sweating outside the broad, nondescript police station, its austerity relieved only by a layer of sleet and snow, its bland cinder-brick exterior coated like a badly frosted cake.
I charged up the wide span of concrete steps, skidded to a stop in front of the commissioner who, although his age might match my mother’s seventy-five, seemed determined to stop primary clearance to the rest of the building. From the looks of the rednecks around me, I doubted his effectiveness.
One rough-edged man with a faded black leather biker jacket stared at me morosely from a corner of the slightly crowded and chilled entrance.
In the opposite corner a rather sulky looking youth slouched against one wall, his arms holding more tattoos than muscle. His glossy gaze traveled a slow, insolent path over me and I gave him my best glare. He winked at me.
I turned away. The last thing I needed was the attention of a sixteen year-old smart ass.
“Miss.” The security man motioned for me to approach his desk. As I did, I focused on my one and only purpose for being there, finding and obtaining Mother, freeing her from incarceration and wiping the record clean.
Cleared by the elderly commissioner, I slowed only at the receptionist who pointed me to a span of stairs as utilitarian as the outside of the building. On the second floor, the door opened and a slightly familiar face smiled and motioned me in where he immediately took me to a corner office. The familiarity blew right by me. All I could think of was Mother.
“Have a seat.”
He motioned to a hard-backed chair and I sat only because I wasn’t sure if my legs would hold me.
I know him, I thought, and tried for a minute to place him. “Cassie. I can’t believe it’s you.”
“Russ?” His identity, despite the official police uniform, came to me in a rush. It was surreal facing who had once been the fuzzy-lipped Russ Thomas. Last time I’d seen him he’d been wearing a suit one size too big and a tie one knot too tight. It had been high school graduation. He looked different now, better—much better.
“I’ve thought of you often through the years, Cass.”
I didn’t know what to do with that information but whether it was purposeful or not, it was rather calming to focus on something else. I glanced to the corner and saw a duffel bag with a telltale hockey stick propped against it.
“A hockey player,” I murmured. Not a surprise in a town that sees snow almost six months of the year.
“Men’s rec league. I play whenever my shifts allow.” Russ shrugged.
I remembered Russ had played hockey all the way through school. In fact I’d been to a good number of his games—not because I’d been into Russ but because he’d played on the best hockey team in the city and I had been completely into hockey.
“You always wanted to play in the NHL.”
“Me and half the guys in this town.”
“But you were good.” In fact there had been rumors of a talent scout out to watch a few of his games. I wondered what had happened.
He shrugged. “Even drafted, good doesn’t make a career.”
“I don’t understand.”
“I was too far down in the draft and there was an issue or two with the farm team I was sent to.” He looked down at the papers on his desk and then back up at me. “But look, this isn’t about me.”
I almost shrank from the sympathy I saw there and my heart did a triple skip as reality slammed into me one more time.
“I saw your name and thought I’d take over for Tod,” Russ explained. “I hope you don’t mind. But a friendly face …”
“Yes, no. I don’t mind.” I blustered not exactly sure what I minded or didn’t, only one thought reeling through my mind. Where was Mother?
“Your mother went with Tod to get a coffee. She was seeming a little agitated.”
“What happened?” I blurted out and it seemed I forced the words passed a mouthful of memories. Faces and connections dashed through my head—mine, his, Mother’s—I couldn’t focus, couldn’t think. I stood up and clutched the desk with two hands as if preparing myself for an execution.
“The call came in about two hours ago. Initially the store security thought it was a simple shoplifting situation. Then they discovered it was a bit more complicated than that.” His hands folded on the desk and he leaned forward.
His eyes seemed to lock with mine and I willed him not to go any further. He missed every silent cue I threw at him. “She’s here as a lost person.”
“Mom just has some memory issues.” Then I realized Mother had tried to shoplift. Straight-as-an-arrow, church- once-a-week Mother, who had once made me return a pack of bubble gum when I was five. I’d lifted the gum from a local convenience store and she’d made me go directly to the manager with an apology.
“I was told she didn’t know her name.” I took a deep breath after I said that and my fingers ached from my grip on the edge of the desk. “I find that impossible to believe. What was said to her? She must be terrified. That’s the only explanation.”
Mother rambled and repeated herself often enough.
But this? He obviously had no idea what he was talking about.
Available online at:
About the Author:
The winner of her city’s writing award in 2011, Ryshia Kennie’s novels have taken her characters from the depression era prairies in her first book “From the Dust” to a across the globe and back again. There’s never a lack of places to set a story as the too long prairie winters occasionally find her with travel journal in hand seeking adventure on foreign shores. While facing off a Monitor Lizard before breakfast or running through the Kasbah chased by an enraged Water Carrier aren’t normal travel experiences and might never find a place in one of her stories, they do make great travel stories. When not collecting odd memories from around the world, she’s writing mainly romantic suspense and women’s fiction. For more, visit her website at www.ryshiakennie.com.
A mother’s tragic diagnosis.
A daughter’s life on hold.
An ending and a new beginning …
Don’t miss a thing!
Sign up for Ryshia Kennie’s newsletter – The Walkabout
Books by Ryshia Kennie:
…a world you never imagined!