Last escort

  When my mother was seriously ill, she didn’t stay in the hospital, but lived with my younger brother in Kaifeng. I left everything at hand and set up a small bed next to my mother’s bedside to accompany her day and night. Later, my mother was very dependent on me, and she seemed a little anxious when she couldn’t see me for a while. As long as I was by her side, it seemed like her life would last. During that time, our mother and son talked the most. We talk about rain when we see rain, we talk about snow when we see snow, and we say what comes to mind.
  Once, my mother told me that she died once when she was a child, and she has earned a lot by living to this age. When she was five or six years old, she developed a large sore on her chest, which was swollen like a gourd, and the largest plaster could not stick to it. It is said that the sores are afraid of not coming out, and it will be fine once they come out. Who knows, after the sore on her chest appeared, it became more and more rotten, and it was so rotten that it couldn’t be controlled. Her father took her to the doctor, but the doctor shook his head and said there was no cure, so take the child home. The doctor also whispered to her father, make a box for the child. The so-called box is a small coffin. When a minor dies, the coffins used are boxes, not coffins.
  The mother said that she remembered very clearly that when her father carried her home, she couldn’t put her arms around the adult’s neck and lie on the adult’s back like other children. Because the sore on her chest was a big obstacle, she could only face her father back to back with her chest facing out. Her father held her by both hands and bent over until he carried her home. After arriving home, her father did not put her on the bed in the house, but put her on a firewood stack in the yard. While looking for someone to make a box for her, her father waited for her to die. She also knew that she would not survive, so she cried hard on the firewood stack. Tired of crying, I fell asleep. Wake up and cry again. Crying and sleeping like that, her breath didn’t break, red granulation sprouted from the sores, and she survived.
  My mother also told me that when she first gave birth to me, she had another big sore, this time on her leg. Among the children, she cared about me the most, but she didn’t breastfeed me well. I was just one month old, and her milk was gone because of sores on her body. She broke the steamed buns into pieces, soaked them into a paste, and fed me up.
  Listening to my mother telling me about her experience of having sores twice, I thought that the reason why my mother was so sick this time was also caused by sores. It’s just that the previous two sores were on the outside of the body, but this time they were inside the body. In the first two times, my head came out, but this time it was just swollen, but it grew bigger and bigger, and it grew more and more, but I still refused to show my head. This corresponds to a saying in our place, which makes people afraid of getting ahead, and the sores are afraid of not getting ahead. I seem to understand that the sores that don’t come out may refer to the evil tumors!
  The mother’s condition worsened day by day, and the analgesic drugs could no longer suppress her pain. Mother gritted her teeth and endured, trying not to show the painful expression. My mother maintained her self-esteem despite her serious illness. My mother’s feet were loosened from being bound halfway since childhood, which belonged to what people call “liberated feet”. My mother thought her feet were ugly, so she wore socks all day long and refused to take them off even when she was sleeping.
  I told my mother that she must wake me up for urination at night, and I helped her get out of bed. In fact, I slept very alertly at that time. Whenever my mother moved, I woke up immediately. One night, I heard rustling on my mother’s bed, and knew that my mother was going to get out of bed. I asked my mother to slow down, and I will help her. As soon as the mother said no, she fell to the ground in front of the bed. I hurried forward to help my mother up, not daring to complain to her in the slightest.
  Towards the end of the day, my mother told me that after a person dies, there is a procedure in the aftermath called soul hunting. The purpose of soul escaping is to lure the soul of the deceased from the home and send it out of the village. The method of ghost hunting is to send out all the children of the deceased, light a bunch of crop stalks as torches, and go to the crossroads at the head of the village to burn paper. The most important point in the whole process of ghost hunting is that the elder son of the deceased must hug a live rooster when walking to the village; when the paper is burned and walking back, the elder son must hold the rooster’s neck tightly. With one effort, he killed the cock. The soul of the rooster represents the soul of the phoenix. If there is a phoenix soul to ride on, the deceased can fly away by setting up the phoenix.
  My mother’s words made me feel cold, and I realized that this was my mother specifically teaching me how to deal with the funeral. Mother’s eldest son is none other than me! For some reason, I didn’t want to hear my mother tell me these things. Maybe I’m still deceiving myself, unwilling to admit that my mother’s departure is about to become a fact. Maybe I didn’t want to be pushed around, and I was afraid of my mother’s funeral and the task I had to take on in it. Maybe I’m being watched by the villagers in my imagination. Anyway, when I heard my mother say these words, I became inexplicably anxious. I said, “Why are funeral arrangements so complicated now? It didn’t seem so complicated before.” This is all because people nowadays have more money, and when there is more money, there will be more red tape. I also said: It would be too cruel to kill a rooster alive. My mother probably heard my anxiety, so she didn’t say anything, didn’t say a word.