Wednesday, July 25, 2007
Visiting the Parents
It's a blessing, having old parents. Yes, they're creaky and crumbly and leaky and shuffly, and shrinking in size and stature. But I adore them. And every time I see them I come away with a new slant on my own life--and on theirs.
I notice how my mother, who also adores me, still needs to make comments about my appearance . . .and other people's. I see more clearly the provenance of my own judgmental streak.
When I first arrived in Philadelphia, after not seeing them for three months:
"You've gained weight!"
"Mother, is that the first thing you want to say to me?"
"Oh, it suits you, only I think your life is better when you're, you know, lighter. Things go better for you."
Note to self:
Never never never comment on my own daughters' sizes.
"Don't you think those ends should be trimmed?" she asks, touching my hair.
"Yes, Mother. I just haven't had time yet."
"That's right. I remember. You got a cut just before you came last time."
Subtext: Please get a hair cut before you visit next time. I want to show you off.
"I didn't know women wore their shirt tails out. That must be a new style."
OK. She hates my new Gap shirts, even though I painstakingly ironed them and they're
fresh and bright and without stains.
"Mother. That woman over there told me she liked my outfit."
"Don't you want to shower before going?"
Note: I'm going to the dining room to get a to-go styrofoam cup of coffee since my parents don't drink it anymore. It is 7 AM. I am fully dressed, hair brushed, and I showered yesterday and nobody, in the dining room, is going to even notice me.
But really my mother and I are incredibly close; we always have been. I'm not being ironic.
Some of the best times in my life involve lying on my mother's perfectly made bed, a cross breeze wafting through the open windows, and chatting with her--watching her as she bustles around her room getting ready to go out. I remember watching her get ready for work--slip, girdle, stockings, bra, linen dress, heels. And watching her get ready for parties--perfume, matching hand bag, pearls. Always always: lipstick and a compact.
Eureka! Maybe that's why I love lying down so much, and always want to stretch out on a couch or a bed--wherever I am. Lying down reminds me of being with my mom. I lie in bed to talk on the phone; I lie on couches at parties to drink wine and talk; I lie on my living room couch and stare out the window. I've never made this connection before.
See. Having parents who last a long time is a blessing.
Posted by Carol Henderson at 9:48 AM
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