Monday, July 09, 2007

Notes from my mother's house

The bag
Outside my mother’s house is a maple tree. Already last autumn, a plastic bag has got stuck in its branches, tight – whoever threw the bag couldn’t have done that if they’d tried. Not only does it look ugly, eye-sorish, it also flaps annoyingly in the wind, right outside my mother’s bedroom window (although now, when the leaves are on the trees, less so – they seem to muffle the sound). My mother says there’s nothing for it, we’ll just have to live with it until it disintegrates.

(I showed the children I teach how to make maple-seed noses. They loved it.)

The rain that came with the day before yesterday’s thunderstorm has half-filled the bag. My mother will have to wait a while, I think.

The grubs
There are worms in my mother’s kitchen cupboards – it is disgusting. And saddening, because it shows how her eyesight is going – this would never have happened before. (Well – not worms, really – rather grubs of some sort, ready to develop into some bug or another that will feed on her bags of flour and other food stocks.)

There are grubs in my mother’s kitchen, she can’t see them, she doesn’t notice because her eyesight is going. There are grubs, and it feels analogous to her life, when I think about it – the grubs, eating my mother’s food stocks, nesting in her pots and containers. And I am just too tired, and - maybe - lazy too, to start the gigantic clean-up operation of de-grubbing the kitchen (the heart of the home).

The clock
My mother’s wall clock has a temper on it. It gets offended if you wind it too early, or too late, or too much, or too little, and stops. You are then compelled to give its pendulum a push, every five minutes, to tempt it into going again. (She has inflicted this, originally her own compulsion, upon me too. No doubt soon I’ll start feeling superstitious about it too, like she does.) You feel you absolutely must get it to work again, to go again, to tick again, even if - like me - you can’t actually bear a ticking wall clock (although I like it in watches). It carries a strange potential for gratification, as you can never tell when the whimsical bugger will start again – indeed, whether it ever shall. Sometimes it will surprise you with the pleasure of starting again after only three nudges; at other times, it will start only when, hoping against hope on the third day, you give it yet another shove. Usually I don’t even notice it has started until much later, and to a very specific delight: it is ticking again.


Merkin said...

Need to cleanse your mind and soul and now your mother's cupboards, too?
Ever tried chocolate?
Full of theobromine.

tpe said...

Hei Anna MR (and hello Merkin, too).

This all feels a wee bit melancholic (although that may just be me - wilfully mopey, as ever.) Just a couple of things, though.

Noticing and then acknowledging the failings of a parent is a bloody difficult thing to do, at times. Oddly enough, the obvious sadness in such a thing can often translate into irritation - don't you dare fail me, I still need you to be strong etc.....that sort of thing. Or am I just being too twisted here?

As far as the cupboard goes, well, that's actually a bit tricky. Never mind if you are too tired or too lazy - we probably all are, anyway - do you not run the risk of humiliating her by drawing attention to the beasties and grubbiness?

I ask only because I did something similar for my mum, once, and felt I had embarrassed her badly. I think she felt like I was making a judgment of her by cleaning up in her home. It's not beyond the realms of possibility, however, that she was merely looking for a chance - any chance - to take umbrage.

It's bad enough being the child and seeing one's parents fail, but maybe it's worse for the parent (sufficiently aware of these failings) to feel that others have noticed? I don't know. Just a thought.

One more thing, actually. Do I detect a note of worry that you feel you might be turning into your mum? Or is this something that doesn't overly bother you?

If I ever turn into my mum, please shoot me. Please, Anna.

Kind regards (and everything else)


Anna MR said...

Merkin - thank you on the dietary tips. Being, as I am, a vegetarian of sorts (I don't eat the things that fly or run) I am aware of chocolate - dark chocolate - being an integral part of my diet, like red wine. It's the flavonoids.

Anna MR said...

TPE - hello (and everything else).

You touch on various points which are very valid...starting to clean the cupboards is not only a major thing (cleaning the things the wee beasts were found in is one thing - getting everything out of the kitchen and disinfecting etc quite another), it also certainly carries the "I am showing you that you don't notice or even SEE anymore" vibe. Which is painful to do and painful to receive - as a parent myself I can put myself in my mum's shoes.

You are right - there is possibly more than a wee bit of melancholia here.

I don't know whether it is a note of worry as such, worry of turning into my mum. It is just a noticing, an acknowledging that really, this is the way life goes - when we are children, we never really believe we are going to be young adults; when we are young adults, it is inconceivable we would ever be middle-aged; when we are middle-aged...we start to realise that life is real, life is true. And that means one thing only: we are either going to die, or we will become old people.

Of course, you of all people will know I am a party animal still and all that, and that these are just momentary musings.

Glad to see you back at my house, TPE...


NMJ said...

Oh, honey, this is melancholic -I have no wise words, I am empty tonight, just wanted to say hi.

Your poor mum if her eyes are failing, that is what has grabbed me here.

One thing: if I even point out that my mum's spices are out of date, she goes in a wee huff.

Anna MR said...

Hi and hei, NMJ. Glad you came over to say hi, no wisdom needed (only quoting yourself back to yourself here - not implying that you generally come sans wisdom).

There is a horrible threshold that I am not ready to cross yet with the pointing out to my mum she can't keep up a household...I am not ready for it yet, and, to me, that means she isn't either. Of course - she is perfectly capable of running a household - just that it isn't what it used to be. She can't see well enough to get crumbs off the table. It used to be her fixation, that the table was always wiped immediately after a meal. It's - melancholic, to say the least, to see that happen. To my mum, whom (yes TPE) I still need to be big and strong and to sort things out for me.

Sorry - not awfully jolly around my house tonight, NMJ. Hope you are ok, though.


Reading the Signs said...

One little smidgeon of an observation, dear, (now who was it that rattled my cage?) but this is F4xxing bloody damn good writing, OK? Melancholic schmelancolic, pardon my french - in my book the M word is almonst synomynous with beautiful. Not the same as miserable, but miserable is good too if and when (see off-the-wall conversations over at mine). But whether the you is merely melancholic or about to string herself up from the nearest maple tree, you are giving us pictures - good ones - in a voice that's (can I just say this, dammit) original. This post is like the beginning of a short story.

boddv - bums on devils don't vamoosh.

Anna MR said...

Signsypoo - I love you.

Thank you.

(also, what a word ver)


But Why? said...

Wonderful observations. I loved it.
But x

Anna MR said...

But - Thank you.


*Anna MR curtsies and runs off, shy as anything*

Mellifluous Dark said...

Hi Anna MR and all,

I found this melancholic, too, but beautifully observed.

I hope the stars have not depressed you too much. It is funny how in London, for instance, the sight of stars is rejoiced but there it has a (literally) much darker significance in your house.

I wish you starless nights for a bit longer...

Anna MR said...

Hei Ms Dark, how nice to see you, welcome to my house. I am glad you seem to have liked the post...I am with Signs and everyone else who likes melancholia, I think the Slavic blood in me makes me see melancholia as the emotion that encompasses the real truth and beauty of life.

It's not always joyless around here, though, so fear not.

Stars are of course beloved by us mopey bastards too - it's just the realisation that they have returned, the first weeks, that breaks my heart (no idea if others feel this way too), because the time of the white nights is so very short and special, and yes - it is counterbalanced by the near-continuous darkness we will have in six months time. Which, funnily enough, is never quite as painfully unbearable as the expectation, the knowledge that it will come.

Do feel very welcome to nip back and grab a chair and join in the conversations any time, Ms Dark.