Saturday, December 23, 2006
The Golden Years
My mother, who is sixty-four, looks ten years younger. My boyfriend called her "an attractive old bird" yesterday, but was genuinely shocked to discover her actual age. Her manner and drive are possibly even younger. Although she is liable to fall asleep at the picture show, as she did tonight, she is up at five-thirty, and has more energy than just about anybody I've ever met. Not the manic id of the bi-polar, rather the unabating push of a sturdy animal, built for long hard work. She moves mountains.
Still, there is mounting evidence that she has turned a corner, or maybe I should say, passed a milestone (not like those one flushes out of the kidneys, mind you). First, I noticed the amassing of granny-floral prints on the dining room walls. Mother has always been a lush decorator, but never particularly cluttery. I asked if the five pictures on the north wall alone were an aesthetic choice, or simply a matter of storage, as the living room is currently overrun with the kitchen cabinetry they've yet to install. It was the former, as I had feared. It looks undeniably Victorian, or older still, like the painted depiction of the Louvre (Galerie de Vues de la Rome Moderne by Pannini, 1759), the walls simply teeming with the art they'd pinched.
What else? Under-seasoned food, lavender soaps and clock radio in the bathroom, squawking at such a low decibel range, that nobody who lives here heard it.
More significantly, there are several two-liter size bottles of tonic water, Sprite, and club soda, open and half consumed, tucked between the refrigerator and butcher block. You may scratch your head at this one all you like, but in my experience of old people's houses (and this includes my own relatives), there are always flat stale bottles of soft drinks, they simply refuse to part with. Pity the guest who accepts the offer of a cola. Usually, there's never but two or three ice cubes tin-tinning the glass, and even if you're lucky enough to score a Coke, it's so old it tastes like RC anyway.
Do you get what I'm saying now?
How about the grannies with the four-decade-old ice boxes, with cartons of neapolitan ice cream, freezer burnt, gummy and tasting of leaking freon? Ever tried that? It's uncanny the frequency with which such odd things can become demographic trends, and though some might question my assertions, I'll stand by them.
I'd be off to play Scrabble with the old people now, but they've gone to bed.