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Saturday, November 7

what gets in the way

I will admit to being a creative person, always have been. Not necessarily good at anything, but always trying. Trying to draw, to paint, to play the guitar, to play the piano, to write poetry, to write fiction, to write non-fiction, to sew my own clothes, to sew a duvet cover, curtains, french shades. I have tried to knit, to crochet, to make rugs with a hooky thing and loops of yarn. I tried crewel and needlepoint and counted cross stitch. I have made bracelets, earrings and necklaces. I have failed at calligraphy, sum-i and stenciling. I made Christmas trees and ornaments of calico that I stuffed with fiberfill. Not to mention the reindeer made of candy canes and pipe cleaners or the pine cones with straw flowers glued to each petal.

Basically, there is not an aisle at Joanns or MIchaels that has not felt my desperate need.

But, even with that weird sort of energy running through my veins, sometimes the well needs to be primed or something. I sputter and stall, just when I should be accelerating.

This time it has been too many hours at work, and too many hours with my Mom.

My Mom. Gonna be 87 soon, not the end these days, but the beginning of things ending. The list of what she doesn't do anymore gets longer every day. She has been well except for arthritis and a creeping dementia that makes her so hard to be with. Then her gall bladder got all wacky and we started an odyssey of Dr visits. Turns out she has a wonky heart valve that may or may not be a problem. But that's not what gets in my way.

What gets in my way is the awkward part in her hair at the back of her head, that reminds me she doesn't comb her hair much anymore. The gray pants she wears all the time, even though she has drawers full of elastic waist pants that we dutifully buy her every Christmas and birthday as requested. The odd, quilted coat she has worn for decades. The way she needs her cane and a pull from me to get out of my Beetle. The way she waits dutifully for the Doctor, her knees tight together, hands folded in her lap like a school girl.

I find my mind wandering when I try to focus on artful things. I see her and Dad dancing to the big band music they loved, Dad spinning her out and back, pulling her back to him with his hand around her waist before he spins her out again. People would stop to watch them. I see her bargaining at garage sales, wily and shrewd, winking at me as she sashays back to the car with a bargain. I see her rolling out dough to make pasta, the pin making a rhythmic slapping sound as she somehow makes the sheet of dough flip back around the pin. I'm laboring to give birth to my son, concentrating on the minutes and the effort when she pokes her head into the room and announces "I knew you'd be brave!" before she is whisked away. I see her as a young widow, weeping into the gray pinstripes of the suit she has had to choose for her husband. I see her and Dad and my Aunt and Uncle sitting around our dining room table, a pot of coffee and a plate of pastry in the center, Dad teasing his brother with a spoon hot from stirring coffee, laughter, old jokes, secrets told with the key phrases in Italian. I would watch them and long to be an adult.

And now I am an adult and my Mother has become the child in many ways. Such a cliche, but there is truth there. My brother and I, mostly my brother, watching over her, making choices for her, protecting.

I go upstairs and start to cut and paste and in the quiet of my little studio I hear Tommy Dorsey and the sound of secret laughter and it gets in the way.

1 comment:

Louisa said...

I've never met you but I know we could be great friends. i wish I could express my feelings as well as you do. My father is getting in my way in the same way...we are a bit past the beginning of the end, but it is taking a while and it is not easy. I wish you some peace.