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GERTRUDEGertrude Appleman, 1901-1976God is all-knowing, all-present, and almighty. –A Catechism of Christian DoctrineI wish that all the peoplewho peddle Godcould watch my mother die:could see the skin andgristle weighing onlyseventy-nine, every stubbornpound of flesh a smalldeath.I wish the people who peddle Godcould see her young,lovely in gardens andbeautiful in kitchens, and could watchthe hand of God slowlytwisting her knees and fingerstill they gnarled and knotted, settling infor thirty years of pain.I wish the people who peddle Godcould see the lightningof His cancer stabbingher, that small frametensing at every shock,her sweet contralto scratchy withthe Lord’s infection: Philip,I want to die.I wish I had them gathered round,those preachers, popes, rabbis,imams, priests – everypious shill on God’s payroll – and Iwould pull the sheets from my mother’s brittle body,and they would fall on their knees at her bedsideto be forgiven all theirfaith.

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