Walking through this house always produced some special emotion within me. Over the years they ranged from simple nostalgia to severe melancholy, but somehow the events of late drained me of sensitivity and 'now' seemed completely unattached. The rooms were a living, breathing monument to the confused dimension my grandmother traveled through these past few months. There was still the half-packed suitcase in the middle of the living room floor, doilies hung precariously in the most incongruous places, all the knick-knacks were on the same table, and there was a worn spot in the rug where the sofa had been dragged back and forth; this a result of her hiding her pocketbook from neighbors and buccaneers. In the bedroom there were two more suitcases full of underwear, the sliding closet doors were off their runners and on the bureau was a Christmas card sent by me two years ago. In the kitchen, a dozen pots were always on the stove, which didn't work. The water constantly trickling in the sink had eaten a brown spot in the porcelain, and the same empty whiskey bottle in the refrigerator, there for at least the last six months, was standing on its cap.
I was asked to make this pilferer's pilgrimage by my mother who finally had to put Elizabeth in a home. Since there was no conceivable way that she could save herself from her senility and therefore would not be coming home, I was invited to help myself to any of her personal belongings I thought I could make use of. Her home, which through the years of my childhood was a refuge, a fort from which I was moated from the cruelty of the rest of the world, now seemed to swell against my skin, had me tiptoeing through a silent heat that smelled of eucalyptus and camphor. I needed to leave this place as she had left it, like the impractical locking of the bedroom of a beloved deceased. This somehow deserved to be untouched - the grave was not yet warm, had not been dug.
Walking back to the front door I noticed on the small marble-top chest in the hallway a decrepit, dried beyond brittle, gray-brown collection of twigs in her favorite vase. There was a card attached to one of these weeds. As I read it my insides tightened to nausea, and at that moment I had more trouble accepting her insanity than I had through all the traumas.
Happy Birthday Grandmother –
Love, Craig and Dee
In my curiously inconsiderate way I had not remembered, but my wife apparently sent these flowers some ten months ago, and Elizabeth cherished them beyond their beauty, a multitude of thought put into their arrangement. Above this disintegrating sculpture hung the antique clock she so many times told me she wanted me to have. For this reason and this reason only, I took the clock down off the wall and quickly walked out into the street - the pirate she feared - whose temples were about to explode.
I wanted to post this for two reasons - one it is the clock reference Sarah refers to occassionally and I'm also thinking of editing it to be the opening of a sort of biographical novella type of project I have in mind. I was wondering about thoughts on this.