Saturday, August 13, 2016

Saturday Musings(tm). 13 August 2016

Good morning,

A brutally restless night followed by two tortured hours of sleep between four and six a.m. remind me, once again, Do.Not.Eat.White.Sugar.  Even fabulous mousse at an unexpectedly delightful dinner at Cafe Provence.  Even shared.  Do. Not. Eat. White. Sugar.  Even.

I drag myself through the house clutching coffee.  I've left the crystal cup upstairs so I'm using Ivan Komoroski's Owl Cafe mug.  He left it on the back steps of their house after they moved two years ago.  I keep meaning to return it but it's got such a comfortable handle, I cannot part with it.  I don't think Ivan will mind.

The dog has taken to furious barking outside which will probably wake the neighbors.  I'm installing the new sixty-dollar printer that I got at Office Depot when the first sixty-dollar printer died.  The fabulous fiber connection seems typically slow today: I'm still at 30% and creeping by.  Ah, well.  That little rabbit has to nap some time. Some where.  Might as well be now and here.

A blog entry which I wrote this week in my other blog reminded me of my mother's mother.  I dig around a drawer that I don't usually open because it holds things shoved into it in order to avoid them.  But I find what else lives there:  a little book which I made years ago of photos from the late 1960's.  And there it is, just as I recalled -- Nana and my sister Ann, together, in the years when Nana's right side dragged from the vicious aftermath of stroke after stroke.

I touch the black-and-white surface.  Nana.  Oh, Nana.  And I am there, again, at her home, listening helplessly as she tries to make her brain find the words.

Der-der-der.  I don't know what she wants.  I stare helplessly at this woman who comforted me so many times when my home had been chaotic.  She held me while I shuddered and cried. She wrapped her arms around me and murmured soothing things that I could not discern from underneath my thick veil of hair, buried in her warm embrace.  But I knew they meant that I would survive, that she will guarantee my survival.

Now in her living room in Lake Knolls, her brain fails her.   She wants me to get something for her but I do not know what it is and she cannot find the words.  My brother has gone into Springfield with Grandpa, to their business, the Sonotone House of Hearing.    I glance at the door to the back bedroom in which my great-grandmother, Mom Ulz sleeps.  I silently will her to come out.  The door remains closed.

Nana abandons the effort.  She pushes past me, dragging her bad leg as she navigates the hallway.  She reaches with her functioning arm and pulls open the medicine cabinet in the bathroom.  She gestures.  I start taking out bottles until she finds the one she wants and then I place it in her one functioning hand.  Castor oil.  I have no idea what it does.  But she is my grandmother and I am twelve.  If she wants castor oil, I have no right to prevent her from it.

She speaks:  Poon, poon, poon.  She shakes her head.  I know this one:  Spoon.  But should I get it?  What size?  I suddenly wonder if caster oil can hurt her.  I long for the old Nana, before the strokes, the Nana who taught us to make a bed "tight as a drum, neat as a pin".  The Nana who came to Jennings after so many blow-outs; who swept up broken crockery; bought groceries; made schmarrn and sauerbraten; and calmed every fear in my heart with her throaty Austrian voice and her gentle blue gaze.

In the end, Nana used her teeth to open the bottle and she took a swig of the horrible stuff while I stood helplessly five feet from her wishing I knew what to do.

Almost five decades later, I sometimes hear my grandmother's voice.   The last time I saw her alive she stood at the door to my grandparents' home.  My mother had come to bring my brother Mark and me back to Jennings after our summer visit.  My mother drove the Dodge Coronet which her parents had sold to her for a pittance, taking small payments though only because she insisted.  We paused in the driveway.  My mother said, She didn't say, "See you soon", as she usually does.  Or something; I am not sure, now, all these years later, what my mother expected.

We watched my grandmother for a few minutes.  My mother said, I don't like leaving her alone.  Grandpa had gone to the office.  Nana finally lifted her good arm and waved.  Mother put the car in reverse and backed out of the driveway.  My last sight of my grandmother was that lifted arm, and her crooked smile, and the golden halo of her curls.

A day or so later my grandfather called my mother before dawn.  Oh Lucy, he sobbed.  I found your mother dead in bed this morning.  We knew, we knew, we knew, that my grandmother felt the fullness of time.  She understood that she would not see us again,  as we sat in her old car, in the driveway of the modern ranch home that she and her husband had worked so hard to buy after so many years together.  And  yet she let us go. And yet:  we left her there, standing alone in the doorway.    My mother held the phone and wept with her father, and then pulled on clothes, got in the Dodge, and went to be with him.

An hour has passed.  The dog seems to have quieted.  The new Epson installation has finished.  My coffee has grown cold.  Ghosts crowd around me.  A shiver clutches my body and I close my eyes and whisper, to no one, to all of them, Oh, how I miss you.  Then my heart falls still.

Mugwumpishly tendered,

Corinne Corley

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The Missouri Mugwump™

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I've been many things in my life: A child, a daughter, a friend; a wife, a mother, a lawyer and a pet-owner. I've given my best to many things and my worst to a few. I live in Brookside, in an airplane bungalow. I'm an eternal optimist and a sometime-poet. If I ever got a poem published in The New Yorker, I would die a happy woman. I'm a proud supporter of the Arts in Kansas City. I vote Democrat, fly the American flag, cry at Hallmark commercials, and recycle.