Time Out: Mary Allen Sochet


Imagine meeting a special man and having him write a special song just for you. What about this man calling you at 4 in the morning to sing this special song to you before you start your day. Mary Allen Sochet was married to a man named Moishe for 50 years and it is in his memory that she wrote this book, shared her thoughts and beautiful poems. The book of free verse poems is her way of keeping their story alive and sharing it with readers. Losing a spouse or loved one brings you sorrow and pain that never really goes away. The anguish, loneliness and hollow feeling are filled in time with memories, reflections, thoughts, pictures and reminders when you see the faces of your children, the remembrances of the causes you each believed in and the home that you shared together. In this case our author and her late husband lived on the Upper West Side of Manhattan for many years. Read the song Moishe wrote to a girl named Marie and find out why he changed Mary to Marie and smile. Let’s begin the journey. Reliving their journey from the beginning we hear her voice as they start their trip and have no gas in their car. Finally driving up Riverside Drive she relates that they are headed for New Jersey and they still need to stop for gas. The incident is quite unique as she finally convinces him to get off at an exit to fill up before they do not get where they are going. Berating him is next and she lets him know what she thinks of his behavior thinking all the time that she wishes they were a normal couple, which probably is the reason they are so unique. Being different is what might have bonded them so together for so many years. Why Do I Care? Is the next poem in this book. You can hear the both Mary and Moishe as they argue, talk and wonder and remember why they stayed together for so long. No matter what they might have said to each other the words seem silly when you think about it and they carried or moved on. My Romance Followed by I Wish I Could Paint You, which is a unique way of describing their courting, their relationship and their time together.


Imagine meeting a man in the laundry room who has no clue about how to operate a washing machine or how much soap to put in. Well: you guessed it the machine overflowed. Calling her and they went out more and more and got married. Chapters One and Two; Chapter three the poor washing machine frizzed out and they did not bother to get another one. She describes her life and compares it to a field of green grass and then the joy of knowing no one died. Peaceful and happy for a time and more aware of their aging as she shares more about Moishe of Mersh. Her description is so vivid that you can picture him in your mind even before you come to his handsome photo on page 40. Describing their relationship it reminds me of Lucy and Ricky or Fred and Ethel as he gives her the business and she gives it to him in return. Next read about how they learned more about each other in the free style poem titled: Learning About Twigs and One Another where she describes Moise in detail as a person, physical changes and his manner. Letting us know that she is Irish and he is Jewish and they combined their faiths into interesting Sabbath dinners and traditions including Christmas and Chanukah. Added within this poem or story about their life together are reminders of their time as activists in the 60’s and marching on the Pentagon and the incident at One Police Plaza. Moishe now overweight and no longer the man he was when she met him, the kidney surgery and her thoughts about growing old, fat, wrinkled and gray. The sadness of attending funerals and fewer wedding and the memories of North Carolina as she relates their time together in this story poem followed by After: when he is gone. Her definition of death starts Part Two but first she shares a picture of the man she loved for so many years. The Poem: What is Death? Reminds everyone how short our time on earth is, how precious each moment and how fragile our lives are. A father’s day without Marvin (Moishe), no guy at the end of the phone or even at the “end of the world, and the world is different from now on.


Author Mary Allen Sochet describes her life like a “ piece of sandpaper,” which is quite remarkable and unique. Sandpaper is rough, when touching it you hear a scratching sound and the wearing down of her life, no life raft to help her stay afloat as she now travels the rough waters alone. His brown corduroy pants, as she relates the rest of the poem to Marvin as if he could hear her thoughts and her words telling him about the many things that made him special. Reading about the seltzer, UBet and Challah brought back memories of living with my grandparents in the South Bronx and my uncle who delivered seltzer she told me along with UBet concluding the poem with words we all want to say to those that have passed: You come back!


In Melorra’s room is next followed by Before You Came and Days of Obligation faced after he is gone. The description of how she got through her days as if she was walking in a cloud or huge fog waiting for it to life. Grieving they call it and the tears flow even when you least expect them. The Two Thousands focuses on his death, her son being away her daughter losing a child, a job loss and the many battles that still have to be won and the hurdles that needed to be overcome.  A friend from the past or the 60’s brings back memories. 763 days together imagine 47 years of marriage and wishing for more. The next poem is Saturday night I went to party with her two sons and father. A party for someone turning 70 with no mother, no Laura just pictures of her. Leaving the party reminding the us that now there are three where once there was four. The next poem in the collection is “Wishes don’t wash dishes,” followed by You took him and I Keep the Radio On. Memories flash into her mind as the recalls the simple things they shared like the Dollar Store, singing on New Years Eve and just wishing her never left. A question starts the next poem and it is one that many of us including myself have asked more often than not: How come you up and died like that? Losing both my sister and my mom within a few of months of each other last year I still ask that question and just like the author wonder why. Ten minutes is all it took for him to go and then she never got to say what she wanted to him. In 27 minutes my sister was legally they claimed brain dead and I was not told until four hours later that she was even in the hospital. As the author relates “What’s going on Moishe? You come. You go.” “Stick around, will you! February 2 is next then This Morning and Where Were You Mersh? The World Has Come Undone without You: says it all ass he relates how her world and her life has come apart and the trouble with the economy, the war in Afghanistan and the joy of her daughter having a baby named after him. Life goes on.  The final poems describe her feelings about aging, becoming a Widow Again and living her life as many do when they lose a loved one as if “walking through a long dark tunnel: the sun is definitely at the other end it just takes time to find and see it.

The next is written as if another person or narrator is telling her story how she felt about him and what happened to them. The last is Patience in this Woman of 72, which sums it up. Her definition of the word Patience is quite profound. “Patience in a world that brings a small new courage.” You never really close the door Mary you just keep it open so that your memories remain with you forever. Listen to the song he wrote and you will smile. Told by the author and narrator poems that take us along their 47 years of life.


Fran Lewis: reviewer