This particular entry was so photo-intensive I thought about just making it a separate file. Plus, I wanted to play around with a design I'd nicked from another site.
This was all a trip I took home to Maryland. Mom was stressing out: We're putting her mother, Buddie, in the Hebrew Home. She's not fully incapacitated, but has trouble breathing and can be quite frail; plus, she doesn't always seem to have a clear sense of when things happened, exactly how long she's been doing something, or various other small bits and pieces that comprise a person's full mental capacities. It's all happened rather quickly, and it's very stressful and difficult for all involved -- not the least of which is Mom and Buddie. So Mom wanted me to come home to just be around for the process.
"The process," as it were, isn't that big of a deal. Buddie's been in Holy Cross since early July (she has a hard time breathing and needs help with a Nebulizer mask, plus she's prone to falling, has a shunt in her head and a spot on her lung) for various issues; once they get you in the hospital at her age, it's usually the start of a journey in one direction. The Home is a waystation of sorts. Anyway, she had just gotten a private room the day I arrived. I thought it would be something a la Livvie Soprano; this is really a single hospital room with wallpaper, an easy chair and a dresser, none of which takes up a very large space.
The other part of "the process" had been underway for about a week. My Aunt Sandra came up from Virginia Beach and helped mom box and organize Buddie's possessions. It comes with Buddie's approval and, in fact, encouragement -- for some time now she's said, "Take what you want, let me know what you want" and left the rest of that sentence blank, since we could all fill in the "when I'm gone" part -- and since the Home is her new home, and not a way station that has a "reverse" direction, we can't practically keep her apartment, which she's been renting, at Leisure World for the last 10 years. So we had to move her out, which meant parceling out her possessions. But even knowing all that, it takes a certain amount of walling off your heart and conscience to get through it all without feeling like vultures and carrion. Greg and his fiancee Bonnie came over and took what they wanted; I got the "good dishes" and some paintings and other various things that have no value except what they represent to us of Buddie and Pop-Pop, who hasn't been around a long while. I just remember seeing some of these things around her house for so long that it's hard to imagine them divorced from wherever Buddie is living. They have a kind of object d'memory; as a child they were one thing without a specific meaning, growing up I knew what they were but why anyone would want them was beyond me; as a grown person they were like a part of Buddie's personality. And now, some of them are mine.
There was one large gold horse painting I always felt was so strange that I claimed it, but I swear I have no idea where to put it. It's just that I don't want it to disappear, so I took it since no one else wanted it. Eventually, a small but heavy safe she's had as an end table forever and ever is coming my way; we just have to figure out how to schlep it up here.
It isn't easy work, but it's particularly hard on Mom. We went into Buddie's closet (and in my mind, so many of her rooms are still the rooms I knew from her previous apartment in Silver Spring, so I was almost surprised when we went into these closets and not those, if that makes sense) and pulled down numerous photo albums. A box also came out of cards, magazine clippings, some photos. Mom has a thing about photos and throwing them out (she doesn't do it) so at first we started going through the cards and letters and notes to pick out the photos and she just burst out into tears. These were things with meaning -- but they were like leaves that had fallen from a tree. Once useful, once beautiful, once bringing joy, but now sapped of meaning and usefulness and joy. "You collect things for a lifetime, and then someone comes and throws them out," mom cried. It's true, of course. And the only answer to it is that the objects aren't the person. They did what they had to do, and now their time is done. They have no more meaning to share, and you can't keep everything. But man, it just felt like something valuable was being lost. We tossed the box in toto once we reached 1994. I'm still sad we didn't go through it all, but it would have been sadder to go through it. If that makes any sense. If any of it makes sense.
Larry and Mom and me went to see Buddie the next day and then out to lunch while she had her meal in the dining room. Compared to some of the others, she's a paragon of health and vitality. But they make you come out of your room and eat with the diners; they don't let you become a hermit. Which I can see would be easy to do. So mom and Larry and I went out to a small restaurant called Addies and had omelets and salad on a bench outside, watching the cars go by on 355.
We started to notice a real disproportionate amount of old classics going by in one direction and got interested. So after lunch, we turned back and discovered a classic car show going on outside the pseudo-retro-50s restaurant, the Silver Diner, smack in the middle of a strip mall parking lot.
It was soothing, in a way classic cars can be. The cool lines, the sleek designs, the sense that thought and effort had gone, and was still going into, these vehicles. This was one of the first we saw; the writing on the lower right of the rear had me whipping out my camera.
I have a real thing for certain colors of cars. This sky blue beauty was humongous, like a great sailing ship. And even more than the car itself, I loved loved loved the hood ornament.
This baby was actually for sale, for something like $14,000. It was so terribly tempting. A British car! A convertible! A red vehicle! And me without a million to throw around. So worth it. So out of reach.
Larry was interested. He did a lot of peering into the cars while I was more interested in the exteriors; Mom wandered around shielding her eyes from the sun glare.
This is a major expensive mobile. The guy who owned it (sitting on the other side) told me that in its day (1930s?) it was worth 4 times as much as a house. A Deusenberg, he went on to say, was worth 10 times as much as a house.
See the little door opened at the back? The guy said I could guess from a multiple choice of answers as to what that was for: a) pets b) step up for short people c) golf clubs. I picked golf clubs and was right. Talk about too much money!
I took this for the license plate.
I know people want to see the engines, but having the hoods up on so many of these cars made it hard to see how beautiful they were; it was like trying to look for a cute guy at the dentist's office.
"Does heaven wait
Over the next horizon?"
-- Prefab Sprout, "Cars And Girls"