[PW] Short story: woman talking to deceased husband

ADSGarson O'Toole adsgarsonotoole at gmail.com
Sun Oct 16 17:43:27 PDT 2016

Below is an excerpt from Erma Bombeck's chapter titled "Rose" that
seems to fit the end of the story you described.

Year: 1984 (Copyright 1983)
Book Title: Motherhood, the Second Oldest Profession
Author: Erma Bombeck
Publisher: Dell, New York
Chapter 37: Rose
Start Page 151, Quote Page 156

[Begin excerpt]
Out of the corner of her eye. Rose noticed another resident of the
home who had dropped by. "Wait a minute, Seymour, there's someone

Her visitor said, "You're talking to Seymour? My husband died two
years ago and talks about a Seymour all the time. Does he play golf?
What's his handicap?"
[End excerpt]

I looked in Bombeck's "Motherhood" based on the comment by Todd Mason
who cited Fred Helenius.


On Sun, Oct 16, 2016 at 2:15 AM, Steena Chamberlain
<cheeryadvice at gmail.com> wrote:
> 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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