Monday, December 30, 2013

How Things Look

The sun is friendly these days.  Rather than blistering my mom's thin skin, it's warming up the air to the point where a sweatshirt is a nice addition but hardly a necessity.  The rays are less piercing than caressing.  They send me back to G'ma's first winter here, when she fell and broke both her ankles and spent the holidays at a rehabilitation center.  We were sitting on the patio, admiring the big blue sky, when G'ma wondered why "that woman is wearing a Santa sweater."

The disconnect between the ambient temperature and her memory of Decembers in New York was profound. She grew to love being outside all afternoon in January, although it never ceased to confuse her.  How things looked was at odds with how things were supposed to be, and her dementia only added to the problem.

Her furniture spent the morning being carted out of her apartment and transported via The Firefighter's truck to Elizibeth's bedroom. 

The Thomasville bedroom-set, of mid-century vintage, was bought new for me the summer before I turned 16.  I saw it advertised in Seventeen and G'ma and I spent the summer searching for it.  

We bought it in the furniture store hiding behind the ramp leading from Rockville Center to Merrick Road in Merrick or Sunrise Highway in Lynbrook, the ramp on which I was never in the correct lane, the ramp which had hidden this shop for as long as I'd lived on Long Island. I took one look at the green faux-bamboo detailing and knew that it had to be mine.  I didn't think that it was possible, but it looked better in real life than it had in the magazine.  Was I blinded by love?  Perhaps.  It still makes me smile.

Now, the nine drawer dresser and the three drawer dresser and the desk-and-chair and the mirror and the cabinet and the bookshelf will grace Elizibeth's room.  We laughed about the possibility that all these drawers would insure that her clothes would be properly housed at all times; I suggested a plan for emergency storage when her parents were about to inspect.  We laughed again.  It's all a matter of opinion, of how things look to the individual viewer.  Elizibeth sees comfort in the clutter, her parents see a fire hazard.

I look at the floor of my own closet and have to agree with them both.  I love the ease the fallen clothing represents. I don't have to answer to anyone; I can make a mess and close the door and it's my mess and mine alone. On the other hand, I trip over the arms of mohair sweaters I'll never wear but insist on bringing out every time I change my closet from summer to winter.  I have no place on a reachable shelf to store them, so they lie on the floor, catching my toes and sending me tipping into the hanging clothes.They are dangerous but my mommy knit them and so I smile as I grimace.  

Again, it's all in the attitude.  It doesn't scream mess to me; it's G'ma love under my toes.  It looks unkempt, but all I see is her face.

I've been seeing that face everywhere these last few weeks.  I've been looking at the sky through her eyes, noticing how big it is.  I've been seeing Tucson's bright yellow vans and lime green taxis and remembering her delight in their vivid paint jobs as we tooled around town, following the billowing clouds. I turn a corner and hear her telling me to "look at those mountains... just look at  them!"  I pass the sign for the pod-castle, Friendship Villas Assisted Living and don't read the name but rather the description as I hear her voice asking "what do they assist me with?" 

It's all in how things look.  I'm finding that some things change and some things stay the same and I'm not quite sure what will have which fate. It's all a matter of perspective.

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