Today Di and her mother went to see the room she's going to. Now they're packing and unpacking, discussing chairs and bureaus, what to do with the window etc. Rather Diana is asking the questions and answering them as well. I don't hear Shirley. What I kind of know but can't really get hold of is that this move is as ... if not traumatic... monumental for Diana as it is for Shirley. It is astounding her connection to her mother, the love and caring... sometimes exasperation but never resentment. Even though it's meant driving her to her day program every day, bringing her to the store, giving her 'jobs' to do, keeping her entertained in the evenings... and on and on. Attention and love. Attention and love.
I have to say she is frequently exasperated with Shirley's inability to remember things from moment to moment, or when Shirley hides her soiled underwear in the closet, producing a stench Shirley is unaware of and totally denies, as if Shirley were to her daughter still a 'real' mother who should be expected to accomplish the normal day to day activities we all do without thinking. It's hard for me to grok that Diana still sees her mother as a mother, even as she herself has become the mother.
For years in Florida, and then in Smithville where Shirley and Gord lived, there was a crockery dog who stood sentinel on the front lawn, its leg now broken. In my world we would throw it away. In theirs, I spend a half hour finding the epoxy, the clamps, the counter space, the newspaper, to cobble the thing back together so Shirley can take it to her new place, put it at her apartment door, maintain the tradition, the memories to help her feel at home.
They will spend the evening together checking out this and that, packing, arranging, thinking about decor, until Shirley needs to sleep.
When I'm ready to go, my children won't do this and I'm glad. Oh... they'll drive me and make sure I'm comfortable. But I don't have the tradition in my bones. Who am I? Where did I come from? It's not all that important. Should I bring a banjo, a fiddle? Will I still be able to play? What pictures should go on the wall? Will the room be done in blue? It won't matter.
What will matter, I think as I age I would like to see a familiar face from time to time ... coming to my room... wherever I am... as long as I can recognize a familiar face.
I'm 74 years old. There are people my age living in those homes. And I'm still making love to beautiful women. I still coach people,. I still run a workshop program. I'm still living in this world, not that one. Although there are words I can't find when my mind goes blank. But I still muddle through. I still stand on stage and bring people to tears. I still find succor in the exquisite nest of human connection.
The new year is coming. Where will I be in a year?