Those Are My Feet!
May 16, 2012
I decided to put the book about Alice’s shoes in a shoebox, wrap it up pretty, and give it to her for Mother’s Day.
I tested the width to see if the book would fit inside with crepe paper.
It did, and so I added a box of chocolates and a pendant and more crepe paper and wrapped it all up in flowers.
On the afternoon of Mother’s Day, Alice and I settled in with another box, a small amplifier called the PockeTalker®, which we learned about from Alice’s doctor and promptly ordered.
I hold the box with the microphone attached and Alice puts one of the ear buds in what she calls her “good ear.” Then, in the quiet of her apartment, we can chat back and forth. With the PockeTalker®, I can now speak to her in a normal tone of voice for the first time in years. (The mic picks up too much background noise in public places, so it’s most useful one-on-one in quiet rooms.)
She reminded me that we had to go to the Mother’s Day Tea in the dining room soon. She was looking forward to the “delectables” the invitation claimed would be served. “We had pork and beans for lunch,” she said, casting a sour look in the direction of the kitchen. “On Mother’s Day.”
She picked up one of the cards I’d gotten for her.
She always reads every word on cards. This one held a wish that time could be turned back so that I could appreciate her in a way that I hadn’t done earlier in our lives together. But when she read the first Hallmark phrase about wishing the clock could go backward for us, she said, “No, I don’t think we’d want to do that because we didn’t get along. Remember?”
I remembered. “Read on,” I said, as I firmly gripped a special mental steering wheel developed for moments such as this and wrested my mind away from images of various therapists’ offices.
She continued reading and began to nod, agreeing with the sentiment that she should have been more appreciated. All the work and worry, etc. So true! She liked what I’d written at the bottom of the card too, about treasuring our relationship and our friendship. “Oh honey, that’s so nice.” She read the next card, a humorous one about how much fun she is, and then she put them both aside, ready to receive her gifts.
I’d placed the book on the bottom of the shoebox so she’d open it last. She pulled off the paper, put the flowers in a vase, and began to explore the contents.
She lingered over the pendant and examined the candy carefully before selecting one. “We should watch our weight,” she said, patting her stomach. “I don’t know why we have both blossomed out at our ages.”
“I have no idea,” I said, biting into a chocolate.
During the unwrapping of the book, I felt a little anxious. She, of course, was not. “Everything is so pretty. I hate to tear it.” As she tugged at the bow and paper she talked about how the morning aide who had helped her shower thought she must have been a swimmer once because her back is so strong. “I told her no, I was certainly no swimmer and that my daughter had once taken me to a lake to teach me how to swim and kept saying to me, Mom, you have to lift your feet up, and I told my daughter that I couldn’t because of my varicose veins. Do you remember that?”
Fifteen years old, standing in four feet of water with my panicked mother, who tried to convince me that varicose veins could keep a person’s legs from lifting in water, and therefore even floating was hopeless.
Finally she looked at the gift. She had removed enough of the wrapping to see her own feet in the cover photograph.
“Oh my goodness!” She was beginning to understand the object she held. “Oh! Aren’t those cute shoes?” She read the title. “Roses Are Red, Shoes Are Black. This has the poems in it? Ohhhh, my goodness sakes.”
She opened it to the first page and this Marilyn Monroe quote: Give a girl the right shoes and she can conquer the world.
Then she read the little story based on the blog post, turned to the first poem, and, before reading it, looked up to ask if the poets could get a copy of this book. I assured her that those who wanted a copy had one. Satisfied, she read over each poem and looked at each photograph until we got to Gordon’s hooch and the photo of Alice’s Gumption (a brew made especially for her).
“That Gordon!” she said, tapping the reference to the time Alice buried some beer for a bootlegger. “He got hooch into his poem.”
She seemed a bit overcome by all of it. “And oh my goodness! For goodness sake.”
I relaxed. She was so happy. She continued on, reading the verses out loud and laughing at each one, even though she’s read them all several times before. “It must have taken awhile for you to do this.”
“Not too long,” I said, Princess Blithe of the Land of Blithery.
She lingered over Justin’s poem, meant to be sung to the tune of Baby Mine. “I don’t know this tune,” she said, so she made one up and began singing the verses to that.
She agreed with the poem that described her shoes as having a “seam down the middle, and a bow just so” by Elizabeth. “That’s true!”
She remembered meeting Leigh, who wrote this in honor of Alice’s new Goodwill shoes:
My shoes are sharp,
My feet feel flirty;
They could dance all night
And still look purty.
“Leigh,” she said. “I’ve met her. She’s had a partner for a long, long time.”
“Yes, thirty-some years.”
“Did you hear,” she said, “how the Republicans are talking about Obama doing this (coming out in favor of gay marriage) so he’ll get re-elected?” This strange interpretation of his high risk move struck her as so funny she doubled over laughing.
Finally, she closed the book and looked again at the cover. “That is just unbelievable. I can’t believe those are really my feet. I wish those shoes could know about this. Where did you get the shiny paper?”
I explained about vanity presses like blurb.com, the press I’d used, and how the book was made.
“It didn’t come flying out of your computer, then.”
“Oh my!” And again: “Those are my feet! And you wrapped it in a shoebox! I thought you might be giving me slippers.”
I gave her one more present.
This reminded her of the Mother’s Day Tea and its so-called delectables. “But remember what they served us for our Mother’s Day lunch. So don’t get your hopes up. Pork and beans! That’s a dirty trick.”
I thought about how many Mother’s Days she’s had: 75. Surely no pork and beans on any of them except possibly during the Depression.
She unplugged herself from the PockeTalker® and off we went to the Mother’s Day Tea in the dining room, which is another story, involving a wandering accordion player whose stomach was so large and belt so low that Alice feared his pants were going to fall off at any moment; a female staff member wearing a white wig and dressed in a vintage dress, hat and heels for reasons we did not fully grasp, who wanted her picture taken with Alice (“Who was that?” Alice asked after I took the photograph and the woman had moved on); Mr. Fickle drifting along the edges, uncertain of how to be part of all the mothering that was being celebrated; real China teacups and real flowers; plates of sweet things that were more or less delectable, and a girl with a new puppy who stopped by to show him off and who, one can only hope, will be royally appreciated by that dog she dotes on and will fully appreciate the mother who brought her to The Place to celebrate the grandmother who was probably never fully appreciated until now… But perhaps I don’t need to tell it all. You get the picture.
Oh man, the things you find on youtube! I couldn’t stop watching this little Arabic confection: