January 30, 2011
Alice’s last remaining sister, Pearl (youngest of the six girls), died early this morning.
Some of you read about Pearl in a previous post.
She was nearly blind. She couldn’t read or even watch television any more, and she didn’t feel well most of the time. She talked to Alice every night. Lately, she’s been saying she wanted to die, and she hoped it would be while she slept. It was.
Alice’s last words to her were “I love you.” Those were mine, too. She turned her considerable warmth in my direction the moment I was born and never once, throughout all these years, pulled it away.
I stayed with Pearl and her truck driver husband, Huber, many times when I was a small child. My uncle, a big man, would lie flat on his back on the floor and let me climb onto his stomach and bounce up and down and tell him the craziest stories I could imagine about anybody and anything, real or not, that popped into my mind. He laughed loud and hard and that encouraged me. So did the fact that Pearl sat nearby writing down every word I said. No wonder I thought I could be a writer.
But I can’t write any more about Pearl today. One day I will.
January 24, 2011
“There is not a particle of life which does not bear poetry within it.” -Gustave Flaubert
Alice wanted to know if the Dollar Store was anywhere near the hearing aid specialist we were going to see. Ever since our first trip to the big store filled with twinkling bargains, she always asks if it’s on our route. Friday was her first day outside of The Place for three weeks. The flu quarantine has been lifted.
But we were not going within range of the Dollar Store. Read the rest of this entry »
January 16, 2011
When Alice arrived in the dining room, finally released from her apartment after a 12-day flu quarantine, she noticed Irene’s place mat was upside down. Without a thought, she turned it over and started looking around to see who else had been liberated. Read the rest of this entry »
January 12, 2011
Alice was calmly eating a piece of toast in her apartment this morning when suddenly ten people came bursting through the door.
Even though the toast was burned, she didn’t know it had set off the smoke alarm because she couldn’t hear the smoke alarm. She’d been deposited in the Rosary Room while staff people threw open her windows and waved newspapers and magazines around. Read the rest of this entry »
January 6, 2011
Alice wanted to eat lunch at the Red Lobster, the older Midwesterner’s idea of a great fish and seafood place. I mentioned the nearby ocean and rivers filled with fish that were not available to her in Iowa. “Fish places are everywhere out here.”
But no, she wanted the Red Lobster. The closest one was tucked away in a suburb, nearly an hour from The Place.
We sat in a booth and ate some fish who should not have died in order to be cooked in such a ho-hum manner. I told Alice that in the afterlife we’d have to face these fish and apologize. She reminded me that when she was eighty she had passed away while traveling to a family reunion and been CPR’d back to life (long story; later post), and she’s pretty sure we can expect no afterlife. She said she experienced “nothing, just absolutely nothing.”
“But,” she added wryly, “maybe something different will happen the next time I die.” Read the rest of this entry »
January 2, 2011
Alice has fallen in love with a big white Victorian house in southeast Portland that belongs to our friends, Thalia and Mike. The wood inside is richly dark, and the colors are deep reds and golds and blues. Best of all, it’s filled with treasures from their worldwide travels.
We were invited to come on New Year’s Day. Mike had been called to work, so the three of us (actually four, including Brio) were on our own. A Christmas tree stood in the corner of the dining room. The house smelled of pine. Read the rest of this entry »