Dec 30 2009

Mixed Emotions

Mom (now officially called “Small”) is so organized, she frightens me. She alphabetizes her spices. She writes down everything she’s cooking for dinner each night, along with the time it goes into the oven and at what temperature, and the time it gets whisked out.

Opening the icebox door, she showed me a casserole (“That goes in at 5:45”), a cookie sheet of potato boats, and a tray of shrimp arranged like flower petals around a silver bowl of dipping sauce. “And I’ll take those cheeses out at 4:30. But should we use this butter knife, or the sharp one?”

I followed her to the stove. “All I have to do is hot-up this gravy at 6:15. The roast comes out at 6:30 and it cools for ten minutes. “Now come look at this.” On the mahogany dining room table were cut-crystal water glasses, china plates, silver candelabra, ironed linen napkins and more.

This was at 8:30 in the morning.

Eleni slept most of the day yesterday and was short-tempered. I puttered and packed, feeling low, trying to sort out my Mexico things from the rest and hoping I can get through the next few days okay (hasty hellos, painful goodbyes, traveling). Lulu, the [mostly] even-tempered one, played on her computer. The previous days’ rain had melted the half-foot of snow so Eleni didn’t get to make a snow angel after all. Had she but looked on the bright side, she’d have thought to make a fabulous mud angel.

Lulu introduced Small to YouTube and now Small is addicted to the Susan Boyle video.

After this action-packed day, we enacted our customary bedtime ritual: Small says, “I know it’s early, but I’m tired. I’m going to bed now. Goodnight, all.” She kisses each one of us on the top of the head and vanishes into her bedroom, Stella at her heels. Ten minutes later, Molly, Eleni and I are piled with her and Stella on her bed chatting. Last night she talked about how fond she is of her fella, Ed, and how lucky she is to have him in her life… and how lucky she was to have Dad for all those years. “Some people are just plain lucky,” I remarked, not with self-pity but acceptance. “I know,” she agreed. “But don’t worry. You’ll find a nice man. You just need to tone yourself down a little. You’re very outspoken, and I think that’s offputting to men.” I found that I, myself, was offput by her remark, and thus I outspoke: “If I acted any way else, I wouldn’t be me.” Oh well.

Small got up early to make us all sandwiches for our trip. In her remarkable generosity, she gave us all yet more parting presents. She looked small and cute, framed in the doorway. Her mighty green-eyed beams — which she turns on us to frightening effect when we’ve aggravated her — were set to gentle.

“Great honk,” she cried suddenly, as she watched a 21-mile-long stretch limo climb her drive. It had darkened windows. I was intrigued. Like Stella when she sees a new car, I leapt into it, forgetting my humans behind me and barely saying goodbye for the novelty of it all.

glasses

Molly and Eleni were more sensitive. They climbed in reluctantly, settled in and gazed somberly out the window at their grandmother and my dog in the wintery landscape. Small waved and Stella wagged until we were out of sight. Meanwhile, I had long since slid to the floor and wiggled onto my back to face the ceiling, to snap photos of the puddle-shaped mirror framed by glowing tubes of light. I wonder why it’s there. Or do I?

mirror

Srambling back up to my seat, I saw the girls were still submerged in sorrow. “Are you okay?” I asked Eleni. “No. I’m such a wreck,” she confessed. Molly piped up, “Yeah, but you’re our wreck.”

car

Now we’re on the airplane. The public is very grumpy today. Lulu likes a window and I like an aisle, so we’ve had someone sit between us on both flights. Eleni likes strangers and has fallen asleep on the shoulder of a handsome one. When the other guy woke up, he kept scooping out his ears with his forefinger and examining what he found there before flicking it into the aisle.

sleeping

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