Sunset and Camden


37, college grad, 2x married, one son, one stepdaughter, four cats, one idiot dog, one very small house and small garden.

Tuesday, January 25, 2005

She touched it

Yesterday we went through a buffet cupboard that contained items that belonged to my recently deceased grandmother. My mother and I looked at countless things that were once used and admired by her, my Great-Grandma Lulu, and my Great Grandmother Rodgers. The point of the exercise was to divide the items between my sister and I. I thought the task would be difficult and that we might fight over some of them. But in the end it was easy. I took all the ugly stuff.

Let me explain. I have a sense of history that a lot of people may not enjoy. I am grateful for this 'seventh' sense. To be honest, I care less about the functionality of an item or the beauty of same, provided that there is something behind it. I can look at an incredibly horrible looking thing and see the beauty in it based on its history alone. Let me give you a case in point.

One of the items is I chose to keep was a vase owned by my Grandmother Jane. It is squat and bilious yellow. I has blobs on it that are supposed to look like fruit but instead look like multi-colored boogers. It is easily one of the most hideous things I have ever seen. But I chose to keep it because my grandma touched it. I don't care what it looks like. It is a part of her, and hence, a part of me. She liked it (I have NO idea why) , and she used it, so it has importance to me.

My sister got her share of 'ugly' stuff, too. I managed to foist the ice cream cups off on her, and an impossible to polish silver breadbasket. But she felt much the same way I did about the history of the items; it mattered not so much to her whether she would ever use the ice cream cups, as it did that they had once belonged to our grandmother.

That's the best sort of inheritance. The inheritance of history; the handing down of continuity. Someday, when I am very much older than I am now, I'll take all those objects and pass them on to my son with an eplanation of where they came from and their importance. He is the fifth generation of my family born in this country, and we have managed to maintain 100 years of family history simply by passing along our treasured objects. I wouldn't give up that sense of belonging for any amount of money. Money is transitory, but a good ugly vase with a history is forever.

Wednesday, January 19, 2005

The Serenity of Snow

It snowed the second day we were here in Cincinnati. Just an inch or so, but what a difference it made. The snow is so clean and pure looking that it confers an aura of saintliness that may or may not describe the denizens of this fair city. Snow is the one natural thing that makes everything look beautiful. There's just one problem.

It's bloody cold out there.

Connor doesn't seem to mind the cold, and provided I keep moving, I'm okay in it as well. In fact, given that I am starting down the road toward The Big Change, and hot flashes are now a daily fact of life, the cold is sometimes my ally. Connor loves the idea of being able to go sledding for large parts of the year. But sledding is perhaps a misnomer for what we have been doing.

Mudding might better describe it. We take the red plastic toboggan from my mother's basement down the street to the park. We find a suitably large hill. Connor positions himself in the sled, and I give him a push. As he goes down the hill, the sled compacts the snow into the grass and dirt, leaving a wide trail. So when he comes back to the top we have to move along the ridge of the hill to a clean spot. Then he wants me to go down with him. Our combined weight digs the sled into the earth and pushes up a mound of mud...and of course because I am steering challenged, we wipe out into this giant mud clod. We trudge back to the house, our cheeks bright red with the cold and our clothing dark brown with the mud. But I don't mind; a little laundry is a small price to pay for that kind of fun.

And it was educational for Connor. He is the only kid I can think of who has now had the experience of mudding down a large hill with his mother gripping his arms for dear life screaming, "Oh, shit! Oh, shit!" right in his ear. I thought he was going to pee his pants he was laughing so hard. Fortunately he did not, because I'm not sure I'd know what to do with frozen pee.

The best part of the snow is being able to watch it from the window, hot cocoa in hand, and a fire blazing behind me. They aren't kidding when they say snow brings a hush to the world. I think the hush comes from thousands of humans struck suddenly silent as they watch the beauty of the falling crystals. You can't buy that kind of serenity.

Sunday, January 16, 2005

Rumors of my death have been greatly exaggerated.

I'm not dead, just resting. I took some time off to gather my thoughts before posting again. Or, possibly, I simply didn't have anything to say. Perhaps I was poleaxed by the elections or stunned into silence by the unfolding mayhem in the middle east, or even just depressed about the tragedy of the tsunami in Asia. Who knows. Maybe I was just lazy.

There is always the possibilty that I was overwhelmed by my life. I've lost two grandmothers in the last three months to cancer. I have only one grandparent left alive, and that's Papa, my father's father. I lost both of these venerable women to the tobacco companies. Their products shortened their lifespans. And the guilt I'm carrying around with me is staggering.

When I found out my Grandma Jane had throat cancer due to smoking, I vowed to quit as I felt it was disrespectful to continue smoking in light of what she was going through. I did manage to quit for five lovely months (as recorded on this blog) before I succumbed to the idiocy that is addiction once again. The shame of my relapse is burned into my being. Every time I light up it is with a silent apology to my forebears.

Now I am in Cincinnati, preparing my mother's house to receive mourners for my maternal Grandmother's funeral. I was smoking just before I sat down to type this. I know the hell my mother went through taking care of grandma, and the emotional train wreck that happened when she died. And still...I put on my coat and go outside to inhale noxious chemicals. My self-esteem couldn't get any lower. What is it about this chemical that trumps all my best intentions? Why am I so tied to it? Why can't I put it down?

I don't have the answers to those questions. Right now the only thing I'm focused on is making sure my mother's house is ready, that the food is ready and that I have a sufficient stock of nicotine patches at the ready. Because whether I quit or not this time, I refuse to hurt my mother by throwing the agent of her mother's death in her face. I will cover my entire body in patches before I will light up in front of her again. I will pray and cry and fight as hard as I have to to get through the next two weeks without hurting my mother. I couldn't stay quit for my grandma, but I'll be damned if I will parade my failure in front of my mother. That kind of insult is totally unwarranted.

And the bright side is that I may actually quit again. Who knows? Plus, it's about 20 degrees out there right now and I'm not about to go out and suffer that kind of cold for nicotine. Addicted or not, there is a line drawn in the sand, and that line says, "What are you, completely insane?!?"

No...but near as dammit.