[PW] Short story: woman talking to deceased husband

Steena Chamberlain cheeryadvice at gmail.com
Sat Oct 15 23:15:51 PDT 2016


I am looking for the title of a fiction short story that I read in a used
book many years ago -- perhaps around 1984-1988. I think the stories in the
book were written by the same author, though I'm not sure. I don't remember
the author's name. I erroneously believed the story was in Erma Bombeck's
book, "If Life Is a Bowl of Cherries, What Am I Doing in the Pits?", which
I read on the same trip. Maybe the actual book was also in the humor genera.

In the story, an aging woman casually discusses the common, day-to-day
events of her life with her husband, who has died years ago, and who she
misses deeply. She converses with him constantly, acting as if he can hear
her from heaven. She says things like, "Well, Ed, today I went to the store
to buy bread, and while I was there ..." (The former sentence is a made-up
example of how she talks, and I'm sure his name isn't really Ed.) The
entire story is just her ongoing monologue, written almost like diary
entries, with different dates listed. One of the few details I remember is
that the woman references her husband's deep love for golf. At another one
point, she begins the day's narrative by with the tongue-in-cheek remark,
"Ed, if you can hear me, give me a sign ... like lowering the heat to 95
degrees." Then she goes on to talk about the sweltering environment in the
place where she has newly moved. She has hardships as she ages, but the
story has a sweet and gentle poignancy. At the end of the story, she is
finally placed in a nursing home. On her first day, she continues to talk
to Ed quietly, sad but accepting. Then the short story switches from first
person to third person, as one of the other elderly residents approaches
her and asks who she was talking to. The woman awkwardly admits that she
was talking to her husband Ed. The second woman brightens and says
enthusiastically, "Did you say 'Ed'? Oh! My George died a few years ago,
and he talks about an Ed all the time! Does he play golf? What is his
handicap?" (I'm pretty sure that these were the exact or almost exact words
of the last two sentences.) It was a very sweet surprise ending.

Does anyone know the title of this short story?


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