Thursday, September 01, 2005

Preserve your memories; they’re all that’s left you.

Hangers and hangers of clothing that’s been worn once, a dozen times, a hundred times, however many times.  A hidden bottle of Brandy here, a hidden bottle of Brandy there.  Photo album after photo album.  And heels, by God, heels.  I pull it all out of the closets like unwilling wisdom teeth, stuffing it into oversized black bags that look as though they held corpses in a previous life.  Now they hold my grandparents.  Or at least the articles that defined my grandparents.  Oh, my grandfather’s not dead, but his mind is – and that’s all people have ever been to me anyway – minds encased by fleshy overcoats.

Then all of the bags get stacked in the garage, as war veterans with blank graves.  I don’t sympathize with them, ruminate on them.  I don’t even give them eulogies.  I try to keep them as faceless as possible.  And I wipe my dusty death feet on the mat, and I come back in the house, and I sit in the woman’s leather chair in the corner, and I listen to some rollicking ’20’s music, and I feel further away, further away, then ever before.  And I try to see the room from her eyes, when one of us would enter the front door for a visit.  And I can’t understand how she could have enjoyed those visits at all.  I didn’t.  I couldn’t reach her chair from my dutiful spot on the couch.  I had to walk over to her.  I had to walk over to her.  And even as I was hugging her, she was in the corner.  As I kissed her on the forehead, she was in the corner.

But then I hear Helen Kane sing “I Wanna Be Loved By You” and sneeze some dust and Brandy out of my nostrils.  I take a long-stemmed glass out of the cupboard and fill it with Cherry Cider instead of wine.  I survey the madness again.  And then, from somewhere in the back of my mind I picture my mother, walking out of the dementia unit, softly crying, saying, “It will be okay again.  It will never be the same, but it will be okay again.”

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