Tuesday, September 23, 2014

To The Moon, Alice

We have a darling young couple that moved in next door.  They are freshy-faced newly married and oh-so-good-looking.  The guy's father had owned the house and had been renting it out for the last few years.  The Freshy-Faces decided that they wanted to move from downtown to our area and for months months there was a parade of service trucks in the driveway fixing the place up for the new tenants.

I felt like the jealous old hag next door.

Now they're painting.  I bet they're getting the kitchen and floors redone.  We'll never be able to do that.  I bet his father is footing the bill.  Don't you think, Mark?  Mark?  The power company was here, Mark.  For hours.  What do you think they were doing, Mark?  I bet they're getting their own service line so that when the power goes out they can still watch t.v. and mock us on Facebook.

And Mark said, "Stop looking out the window, Gladys Kravitz."

Then I actually met the Freshy-Faces and I liked them so it was kind of hard to dog on them and their reno'd house.  It occurred to me that the stories I made up in my head about things being so great over there might not have had much accuracy. Or any.

On Sunday Mark and I were going to go out for a walk when I noticed the Freshy-Faces in front of the house.  She was walking ahead of him and neither of them looked happy.  I told Mark we had to give them a head start because I didn't want to be all up in their business if they were arguing.

And they were.  Around the side of the house and back to the front of ours.  They were yelling at each other and so we decided to sit tight for a few minutes until things cooled off outside.

But part of me wanted to yell out the window, "Ummm......kids, we don't really spill out onto the street in this neighborhood with our ugly differences of opinions."  The other part wanted to say, "Ummm.......kids, can you yell a little louder so we can hear."

Then Mr. Freshy-Face threw his hands up in the air, saying to her as he stormed off, "What's your problem??!!!"

By afternoon they were planting flowers and being a team again.

They probably had make-up sex after that.  Don't you think, Mark? I think he seems like kind of a jerk don't you, Mark?

And Mark said, "Let it go, Gladys."

That night in this basement the Stale-Faces were going at it over the multitude of rags coming from the dryer that were used to soak up the latest leaky overflow.

The Speckled Trout roll or The Big Daddy fold?

There was no declared winner or loser.  Nor was there hot make-up sex afterwards like in the old days.

Just two people still still trying to hash things out with a pile of rags close at hand for the next meltdown.  Some folded, some rolled.

A fascinating difference of opinion and compelling arguments on both sides that any passerby would surely want to listen in on.


Tuesday, September 16, 2014

Twenty & Four

Sometimes my sister, Ann, and I will sit around and talk about how long Dad's been gone.  It usually starts with the same question.  Was Dad there when.......?

Then we start ticking off the the things that have happened that he wasn't around to see.  Weddings, weddings and more weddings.  Babies being born, babies growing up, babies graduating from college.  Funerals for dear friends and relatives - his little brother last year.  The Hawks winning the Stanley Cup and the White Sox the World Series, but no such luck for his hapless Cubs.

At some point the conversation will trail off to nothingness because there's only so much you can scoop from the well of absence.

Now we're past the two decade mark.  Decades?  Really?

I remember watching t.v. with him the year before he died.  The Berlin Wall was coming down and there was live coverage of it with Peter Jennings.  "Well I'll be, Kate," he said.  "In a million years I never thought I'd live to see that."  The dashing network correspondent would die as well, and do kids these days even know what the Berlin Wall was for?

The day after he died Ann and I drove to the mall.  Since Mark and I had only planned a four day trip home that would stretch to two weeks, I had nothing to wear to the funeral.  We took note of the clouds along the way.  Fat, huge, fluffy clouds and we both wondered if Dad was "there."

I ponder the there a lot.

Mark and I were lucky to have Mom and Dad be our first visitors a few months after we moved to Maryland.  They were going to a convention with friends and stopped to spend a few days with us.  While Mark stayed behind to work at his new job, Maggie and I went with them to Mt. Vernon, Annapolis, Williamsburg and Monticello.  Being #4 of six, it was the first time I had my parents to myself and I loved it.

A few weeks later I got one of Dad's long hand-written letters thanking Mark and I for our hospitality.  He wrote, "A good home can surely be an elusive thing.  It should have an air of calmness and tranquility about it.  It should convey a spirit that projects an understanding of what is most important and worthy in our lives.  It is our observation, Kath, that you understand those ingredients very well and are weaving them into your home life."

For a guy with only one good eye he noticed a lot.

When I look at my own kids, two of whom weren't even born when he died, I see pieces of him.  The smile, the eyes, the gentle touch with strangers.  They are inordinately kind and their dad and I can't take all the credit for that.  It was their grandfather that walked the walk.

The Mister and I have a rather spotty record in that regard.

After decades of pondering as if I had a say in the matter, I would like my soul to resemble a sparkler on its exit.  I hope "there" is where Dad landed - in everybody he loved and who seek to understand that which is worthy.  That the pieces of light fall far and wide and are scooped up and saved for the babies of the next generation.  That what is no longer needed finds a calm and tranquil home.  That a tiny flame stays lit to guide the way.......

And that life goes on.

And life goes on.

And life goes on



Sunday, September 7, 2014

Shouldering On

There is a drugstore near our house that has been in business for over fifty years.  It is in the old school category.  Women who worked there were required to wear skirts or dresses up until a few years ago.  There is a free delivery service if you're too sick to pick up your prescriptions.  If you live in town (and produce a driver's license verifying your address) you can get a bottle of cough syrup with codeine without a prescription.

When I worked at one of the shops in the center, a customer told me about a face cream they carried that was like "a facelift in a jar."  I became a loyal purchaser of that cream until the company closed due to retirement, and though I searched every internet cranny I never found it again.

The face cream was the beginning of my loyalty to that drugstore with its selection of obscure lines and products that I had never seen anywhere else.  The mainstay at the register in makeup was 87 years old.  She had been full-time there for years until she broke her pelvis and had to cut back on her hours.  She still worked the night shift, though, preferring to start at 1:00, work until nine a few days a week and then stop at the Quiktrip on the way home for a coffee.

She loved to talk and would tell you about her deceased husband, the accident that caused her to break her pelvis and why she likes gas station coffee.

It was like paying a visit to your grandma if you stopped in to pick something up.  Her coworker was a good decade younger than her and at some point must have had a mild stroke.   She is the sweetest thing in the land, calls everybody "honey" and always says to me, "Now how did you get so lucky with all those curls?"

Those gals are my geriatric posse of love.

This past week I have taken some big action on my ridiculous hurting shoulder.  It's either going to be my cure or my undoing.  I've got my fingers crossed for the cure but since I have only gone once it's too soon to make any predictions.

On Friday night, though, it was making me crazy.  I never got around to ordering the heating pad I pined for on Amazon and I was in a world of ache.  I went to my favorite drugstore to get another one.  They had a good selection with some intense heat ranges and when I checked out a new-to-me woman was at the register.  She was on the young side of seventy.

"Oh dear," she asked, "are you hurting?'

"Yes.  My shoulder is making my life miserable," I answered.

We talked about her hip, my shoulder.  It was a mini AARP convention at the back of the store.

"It always bothers me," I said.  "But tonight it is worse than ever."

"Well, that's because it's raining.  Didn't you have a grandma whose bursitis acted up whenever rain was close by?  I did.  She knew when it was going to rain better than the weatherman just because of her aches and pains."

Ah yes.........the barometric pressure decided to take me for a ride.

It didn't seem that long ago that I was a hip forty-year-old.  When I turned fifty that was no big deal because actually that was the new forty and not really fifty.  But what do they say when sixty is hot on your tail?

They say you can predict the weather, that you'll frequently need a heating pad with an ibuprofen and Salon Pas chaser, and one day you'll be just the right age to work the makeup counter at the local drug store.