Mrs. Mattison by Jeff Burt

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Pushing eighty, Mrs. Mattison reclines on the lounge chair on the mossy concrete patio while her husband clips the naked remnant of rose bulbs from the bushes, and I attend to distributing mulch. I live in a shed behind his house, a gift from Mr. Mattison to put a roof over my head and keep me off the homeless list.

“Everyone calls it dead-heading,” he says, “but I call if live-heading. See, the stem lives, and it is the only way the stem can produce more. Same way in life. My wife and I need to move on and let more vigorous flowers bloom. We don’t wish to die,” he says, casually continuing his work, “but our attachment to life has been robbed by this Alzheimer’s. And our children are scattered across the globe.”

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