“Buddy, it’s fruitcake weather.”
Remember when Wednesdays used to be Geezer Days? I’d schedule all Gmamma and DooDaddy’s doctors’ appointments and errands for the same day. We’d make our rounds and then eat strawberry salads at Aubrey’s, before heading back to The Home, where my parents would assume their positions in matching candy-striped wingbacks and doze and doodle till dinnertime. Companionable in their silence. Or picking up the thread of a 60-year ongoing conversation.
Well, Sundays are the new Wednesdays. And there’s no Gmamma. Only DooDaddy, still sitting in his striped chair, surrounded by newspapers and periodicals, stacks of junk mail and his carb counting notebook. I sit in my mother’s chair, and we visit.
Me: “Didn’t you have lunch with a friend from Rotary recently?”
DooDaddy: “Let’s see … did I?”
Me: “You said somebody you used to sing with in the Rotary Glee Club came and took you out to lunch?”
DooDaddy: “Oh yes, We went to the most interesting place. I can’t remember the name of it or where it was. Most exotic food. A pizza place in the middle of nowhere. Can’t remember what I had, but it was very unusual.”
Me: “Can we look it up in your carb counting journal?”
DooDaddy: “Well, I don’t know about that. I write my carbs down at the table, and then I put ’em in my pocket, but I don’t always get ’em transcribed into the notebook.”
Me: “Are you still doing your laundry ok?”
DooDaddy: “Oh yes, but you know those socks you got me that I like so well? If I wash them with anything else, they get white fuzzy balls on them, and I have to pick them off by hand if they bother me too much. It’s kinda tedious. Otherwise, I just act like, ‘Oh I didn’t see that,’ if anyone notices.”
DooDaddy: “Now where is it you teach judo or whatever it is you do?”
Me: “It’s yoga. Breezeway Yoga. In the breezeway at Knox Plaza by Roger’s Shoe Shop and Wigs By We Three.”
DooDaddy: “Oh, well I’m glad you’re there, ’cause that space had been vacant for 30 years or so. You can always tell when a shopping center starts going downhill. It’s all nail salons and wig shops. Stuff like that.”
DooDaddy to Henry Dog who is also visiting this morning: “Henry, they just don’t make dogs like you anymore, do they?”
We’re in a good place right now. A holding pattern, so to speak. DooDaddy’s health is ok, even if his memory is slipping, and he can’t quite recall what he had for lunch. But he’s all up on the Syrian Refugee Question and other current events. I think about how my brief visit can’t fill the empty space my mother has left behind, even though I’m perched in her chair.
It will be our first Thanksgiving without Gmamma, heading into the first Christmas of my life without her. I see the Claxton fruitcakes at the grocery store and remember that my mother was the only human on earth I ever knew who actually liked those. She soaked them in brandy.
I think there’s a life metaphor in there somewhere among the candied cherries and nuts. About making the best of things. Because, sometimes you just have to pick the lint off your socks and get on with it.