My late mother liked to sing Vernon Dalhart’s The Prisoner’s Song. She especially liked the last two lines. Her version was:
If I had the wings of an angel,
over these prison walls I’d fly.
I’d spend one moment in the arms of my beloved,
and then I would gladly die.
On Shabbat morning, I dreamed:
I am alone in an entertainment complex, after hours. The movie theatre, climbing wall, and miniature golf are closed. I stand in front of an elevator at the side of the building. No one has briefed me, but I know that when the elevator opens, Mom will be inside. We will be allowed a short visit.
The elevator door opens and, sure enough, there stands Mom, looking elderly but robust and healthy, wearing a familiar blue print shirt. The only hint of anything unusual is a reddish-green glint in her eyes.
I rush in and throw my arms around her. As I do, I think that maybe I should not; if we expend too much energy, our visit will be shorter.
Sure enough, Mom starts to weaken immediately. I help her out of the elevator, and sit on a chair that happens to be next to it. I cradle Mom on my lap.
I say, “If I had the wings of an angel.”
Mom says, “And then I would gladly die.”
Her vitality spent, Mom closes her eyes.