The day began hot. Foreheads dripping with heat so thick one could hear it clatter on the ground. I had tried hard to sleep all last night but I might have well of gotten drunk if I thought it would have made a difference. Funny how alcohol can guarantee eight of sleep without a hangover. But there wasn’t much a bottle of spirits could do for me at present. I put two ice cubes in my coffee cup and poured the brew, listening to the sound ice makes as it cracks from the heat. Already a wave of lethargy swept over me as if to steal what little energy I had left. So much to do and so little time to do what was important. No time to do everything. But that is the grand design. The coffee wasn’t helping as it normally does. You know that little caffeine rush you get out that the first cup in the morning. Well I think it was late or missed the bus entirely as I sat in the chair waiting. I was hungry but it was too hot to eat unless I had ice cream and that just didn’t sound so good right now. No, I’d have to try and muddle through the day.
Joanna was up and ungodly perky this morning. I don’t know how women do that. But she wasn’t the one that had to deal with my mother. She and my mother always had that polite hatred mothers and daughter-in-laws always share. “She’s a nice girl, Richard, don’t get me wrong. But I don’t think she’s right for you.” Yes, a mother’s opinion is everything, or at least she believes that is true. “Rich, speak to your mother again, would you. She’s really overstepping her bounds with the children again.” And I am the eternal ping pong ball whipped from one side of the net to the other. I really should get moving, so much to do and I don’t want to do it. It’s moving day at last.
Three years ago my father had died and let my mother alone in a modest home. Then three months ago Mother had fallen and broken her hip. Her doctor told me that she would need to find a better place to live, one that only had a single floor. That meant her modest house with its narrow stairs would have to be sold and a new residence found. Only Mother didn’t have enough equity in her house and even a modest size mortgage would be a tremendous handicap on her finances. so I was obliged to do the “right thing” and create a bedroom and ensuite for her in my house. Not that we lived in a spacious palace but I did have my own den and that would be simple enough to add a new bathroom while extending the back wall out a few more feet. I never knew just how much a handicap type of bathroom costs. And the addition, well, what’s an extra hundred square feet at two hundred dollars per square foot? There went any thought of buying the 18 foot ski boat I always wanted along with the truck to pull it. Luckily we had some equity our house but the combined payments were difficult enough. Am I boring you yet?
We had spent all last month reducing my Mother’s clutter of furniture, household goods, and so on. My father had the habit of collecting junk that he was going to repair later some day. You know the typical collection. Four worn out or broken lawn mowers with missing parts. Two old tube television sets that just needed a little tweaking here and there. Broken tools that could be mended good as new. Golf clubs, my god the number of golf clubs just waiting for new shafts or what ever would restore to the new. I swear, I had to rent a trailer from U-Hall and make three trips to the dump because Goodwill doesn’t take junk. Not that Mother was much better. There were three sets of mismatched china she had picked up over the years visiting thrift shops and collecting what she thought were antiques. She never threw sheets or towels because they would become good rags for cleaning or working around the house. There were boxes of plastic flowers and other worthless ornaments from her lodge days. “You never know when these will come in handy for the next meeting.” That was her standard saying. Only they always bought new plastic flowers and new ornaments. It took the better part of three weeks pleading that we didn’t have the room for all that junk. “Richard, you’re rather hand on me. You want to throw everything out, don’t you? You want to throw out all my wonderful memories.” To make matters worse even Joanna joined in. “Really Rich, you can’t just throw everything out. Think of your mother.” If I really thought of my mother I just might kill her.
Now I had rented a trailer again and would be loading up what little furniture she needed and would be storing the rest in a rental locker in hopes that it would bee soon forgotten and we could unload it on some unsuspecting thrift shop. At least Mike, one of my neighbors offered to help. “Mike, old pal, you don’t know how glad I am to have you help.” Mike was appreciative. By four in the afternoon we hand moved what needed to go to my house, set up the furniture, and then drive to the storage locker and stuff it full. “Mike, old pal, let’s get a beer before I have to report back to the guards for the night.” We stopped off at the local tavern and each had a draft. It was a relaxing half hour and my mood lighten considerably. Then we dropped off the trailer and headed back to my house. Mike walked back to his place where he knew he would get a warm welcome and a quiet house.
I walked into my house expecting a donnybrook between Joanna and Mother. I mean I had been expecting no end of constant warfare between the two with me in the middle. And what did I find? My mother with an album with all my baby and elementary photos surrounded by Joanna and my two daughters. “This is when Richard was three, he was so darling in that outfit.” “Grandmother, why is he wearing a dress?” “Well, Becca, he didn’t like his hair cut and didn’t like having to pull on his trowsers. Isn’t that just cute?” Oh god, what am I in for now?