top of page

June 27th, 2014 - Patricia Quintana Bidar

June 27, 2014 was the benefit gala at the Oakland Zoo, with that gorgeous 70-something blues singer in red kimono and black jeans and heels, silver dreads pulled back. Catering was by that Spanish place near Jack London Square. They put on their own show with those massive paella pans on the patio.


That night, loading supplies into my car trunk, my hips started to stiffen and ache. It had been a long day of lifting, walking. Striding across hard floors. Once home, I couldn't get out of the car. I learned the next day it was arthritis. Only arthritis. How perfectly mundane.

June 27, 2024: It's early morning. Our son's girlfriend leaves his room. He’ll walk her to her car. I'm going by sound; our bedroom door is closed. The young couple gets more privacy here than at her house, where she lives with her grandmother, mother, brother, sister, and brother's girlfriend, along with four dogs and one of those bald, mummified looking cats.

I strap into my walking boot. Catastrophize about my prospects for healing. It’s 18 weeks post-surgery to remove jagged calcifications from my left foot and fuse bones together. The initial recovery is as if it happened to another person. Soft dressings and a splint. I’d haul myself out of my mother’s old recliner using my arms and right leg. Hop around with the metal walker. I could dress myself and use the bathroom, but it took ages. I couldn’t make coffee or take a shower. Couldn’t get to the back porch for fresh air. For appointments, I’d crawl to our cement porch steps and bump my way down. Stand with help. Then it was a hard cast. Then another cast. Then this boot. The toll all this has taken on my arthritic hips is considerable. My worst moments find me overcome with thoughts of decrepitude. Illness. Death.


My ex, Gary, learned in June 2014 that he had stage four colon cancer. My other ex, Phillip, would soon make that first attempt to take his own life. How many years had I been writing with Tom Luttrell when he was smashed by a truck while cycling in Marin? In 2014, Heather had been married to her husband for only a year. And the most devastating death: my mother’s.


What a decade. Our Fellow Americans elected a president so vile a summary of his plans and actions reads like dystopian fiction. The pandemic and the shutdown with its terrors and uncertainty. I'd crash and burn as an employee. Obsess over my mother’s thoughts and realities during her last months of life. Drop everything to intervene with my husband when our kids reached the brink.


I also began to write, after a hiatus of decades. And submit my work and be published. Over time I connected with an online community of writers from the U.S. and beyond and experienced more understanding, acceptance, and welcome than ever in my lifetime. Never, ever would I have predicted ten years ago that this would come about.


Late that gala night on June 27, 2014, I sat sleepless, hips burning. I faced a freelance deadline. Couldn’t focus. I was waiting for a text from our daughter. She’d broken up with Zach, who had a serious drinking problem and treated her cruelly. She’d dropped out of college to be with him. The two would careen through San Francisco and the East Bay drunk and high. Now she was back with us, but we rarely saw her. She’d text late and say she’d be home in an hour, then forget and crash at a friend’s. There’s a podcast I listened to back then. Improv. Silly stuff. I had to give it up. Its signoff music signaled that she hadn’t texted. Wouldn’t. One night she came home smelling like a distillery. She’d been drinking behind the library with a man she’d met downtown. She was 18. She told me I needed to wean myself from her.

As I’d done with my own solitary, independent mother. Stopped going to the well, as they say. By 2014, she had recovered from a massive heart attack and lungs blackened  after 55 years of smoking. My brother John interviewed her for an oral history. He asked about the women’s movement of the mid-1970s and how it had affected her. “Too late for me. With four kids, I was already stuck.”

Stuck. On June 27, 2014, I couldn't have known about the mental health crises that would bring both our kids to the precipice of death. When I think about fear and the body and my lonely mother and my friends and death, I am also thinking about my children.


June 27, 2024: Our daughter, now 28 and settled in North Carolina, has been sober for four years. She texts that she just got her driver’s license.

“Oh lawd, look out,” I text. Then, “Congratulations!”

“Honk honk!” She returns right away. “First try, mothafuckaz.”

There was one other person who died: her old boyfriend, Zach.

Both kids have earned their degrees. Our son has lived with us for three years. It’s been an honor to have this time with him as an adult beginning to make his way. He and his girlfriend are talking about moving to Columbia, South Carolina. When I heard, my first question was what kind of birth control they use.

I wrote early this morning, seated before my mother’s big wooden desk. A few feet away is her blue recliner, the one in which I recuperated for all those weeks after foot surgery. I have spent my adult life wondering whether the life I lead is defensible. Something to be proud of. Enough. Working too much. Obsessed with my children and their safety. Comparing myself to my mother. Believing that I was not allowed to be happier, healthier than she was.

It’s time for me to focus on my own life. And I am; I do. I write with urgency. I plan a future with my husband in which we will live among trees and get another dog and spend our days with words. I use my brain, my hands, my self to forge works that are real. When the time comes for me to go, I will leave words pulled from the well of me, something true for the world to see.



Patricia Quintana Bidar is a western writer from the Port of Los Angeles region. Her short fiction has appeared in Wigleaf, Smokelong Quarterly, The Pinch, Atticus Review, and Variant Lit and has been widely anthologized, including in Flash Fiction America (W.W. Norton), Best Small Fictions 2023 and 2024 (Alternating Current), and Best Microfiction 2023 (Pelekinesis Press). Patricia’s novelette, Wild Plums (ELJ Press) is available from Amazon. Her full-length collection of short works, Pardon Me For Moonwalking, is coming in December 2025 from Unsolicited Press. Visit

Twitter: @patriciabidar

Instagram and Facebook: @patriciaqbidar.

Patricia encourages you to learn more about Building Futures, a service provider she's supported since 2003. The agency exists to help people in Alameda County (San Francisco Bay Area) rebuild their lives after homelessness and domestic violence. Half of those who benefit from their services are children. Visit to learn more.


  • Facebook B&W
  • Twitter B&W
  • Instagram B&W
bottom of page