Friday, October 17, 2008

October Song

Two nights ago we got a phone call from George's son in Britt, Ontario. He told us that his 93-year-old father had just passed away. Another one gone from Mom's old gang. My dad's best friend, Warren, once had a cabin on a tiny island on Georgian Bay where he went bass fishing each summer. George operated the marina in Britt, where Warren kept his boat. I have photos of both Mom and Papa proudly displaying plump, glistening bass.

All day yesterday, before Mom's shampoo appointment, I dreaded telling her. She and George had corresponded during the past year or so, after I found George's home address by sending a letter to the marina. George printed all but his most recent notes by hand. Two weeks ago, his daughter penned a note for him from the hospital, where he had just had a couple of toes removed. He seemed to be his usual cheerful, chatty self otherwise.

When I finally told Mom, it turns out she already knew! She said, and this seems remarkable to me, "When he wrote about his toes, I knew he didn't have long."

Why remarkable? Because all day long she had been in a densest of fogs. "Mom, have you been drinking your water?"

"Maybe not so much."

"How did you find out about George?"

"Because two men were in my room talking when the phone rang, and one of them told me." (They would have both been Phil.) "Where are we going again today?"

"To get your hair washed."

"What day is it again?"

"Thursday."

At a stoplight on the way to the beauty salon:

"What state are we in?"

"What do you mean?"

"Here! Where are we now? What state?"

"Maryland."

She looked at me in disbelief. "Maryland!? How did we get here?"

"You moved here from Meadville nine years ago."

"What happened to the house?"

"The one in Meadville?"

"Yes, my house on Maple Lane."

"You sold it."

"Why did I sell it?"

"You said it had gotten too big for you."

Long silence. Then:

"After we moved to Maryland, where did we live at first?"

"In the house we're in now. That's the only place you've lived since you moved down here."

We arrived at the salon, which is in the owner's Victorian house.

"I'll just leave my cane in the car."

"No, Mom. Remember that high step from the sidewalk to the porch?"

She tottered along, cane and purse in one hand with me steering her by her other arm. We passed under a trellis, where she steadied herself by grabbing the climbing rose bush. "Ow!"

Samantha and Peggy were waiting. She no longer says, crossly, "Those girls don't know how to do my hair!" She enjoys her visit. The "girls" make a fuss over her. Samantha warms the vial of "hot oil treatment" Mom brings with her and shampoos her long silver hair. Peggy lovingly dries it and rolls it up in a bun. They hug her when we leave.

1 comment:

Liara Covert said...

This is a glimpse into the realities of being human. The mind evolves at a different speed than the physical body. It may be said that regardless of age, each of us chooses to remmeber what we believe is important and useful. We consciously or unconsciously forget the rest.