Because my mother was tired of peeing her pants at Super Value Grocery Store. Because someone told her about an amazing same-day surgery that would fix everything. Because it was a miracle cure! Because the docs said they’d hoist her sorry leaky bladder up onto a miracle mini mesh “hammock.” Because they promised it would sway there in the dark sunshine of her body like a Caribbean vacation. Because bladders aren’t supposed to sway in hammocks. Because the bleeding was pronounced. Because medical loopholes lurk like algae scum on pristine lakes. Because my mother wasn’t old. Because my mother trusted everyone. Because my mother worked as a cleaning lady for rich pilots. Because rich pilots’ wives left crinkled fives and tens behind their toilets to test her. Because my mother knit the pilots’ wives slippers for Christmas. Because my mother persevered. Because my mother died unnecessarily. Because there was a lawsuit. Because it was a class action lawsuit. Because the bounty wasn’t bountiful. Because we had to share with many wounded women. Because the pandemic kept us yard-trapped and afraid. Because Black Friday seemed as good a day as any. Because sitting in a hot pot of bubble stew in stinging snow made sense. Because my mother never got that new sewing machine she always wanted.  Because it was too expensive. Because she kept saying that her old one worked just fine, even when it didn’t. 

Anne Panning is the author the memoir Dragonfly Notes: On Distance and Loss, as well as two short story collections and the novel Butter. She has won The Flannery O’Connor Award for Short Fiction and is currently working on her second memoir about her late father, a barber and addict. She teaches creative writing at SUNY-Brockport. You may contact her at, as well as Twitter @AnnePanning, Instagram at annie_panning, and Facebook at Anne Panning.

Photo by Laura Oliverio