I wrote to my mother this morning on a card I had saved years ago, a card someone had written to me on. “Congratulations!” said the card. “Love, Sue.” I didn’t remember who Sue was or what I was being congratulated for, but one side of the card was blank, and the bright red flowery illustration was something I knew my mother with her partial eyesight would still be able to enjoy, so I did what I learned in the ashram, cut off the side of the card that was written on and used the sort of postcard that remained.
I didn’t want to say much. Just a thank you for the $35 check she had sent ostensibly to cover the cost of xeroxing my father’s writing and sending it to her to give to my crummy little sisters over there in California.
They are crummy. I have a new reason to be mad at them. They went together to Budapest a few weeks ago to go through my recently deceased father’s belongings. I had received a couple of missives here and there over the last years, tight-lipped letters about powers of attorney, a booklist which I was invited to check off if I wanted certain titles from his library when he died. I ignored all of these well-behaved letters for they seemed so cloaked in subterfuge of an undefinable nature, I just knew I wanted nothing to do with whatever these sisters were dabbling in. Certainly, I didn’t want to plan for my father’s death. My sisters like to do these things, years in advance.
When I was visiting my mother last month she told me the sisters were off to Budapest to go through Dad’s stuff. “I’d like his watch,” I heard myself say. “Could you ask them to bring that back?”
I was thinking of the wafer-thin square watch with the bright gold face and the shiny alligator strap.
The box came form my mother last week. She’d used the box her checks from Bank of America had come in. She’d stuffed it with cotton balls and inside were three watches. Two cheapos, and yes, the watch I remembered, still ticking when I wound it, its gold face mottled with age.
Did the sisters as they went through my father’s things notice anything they thought I might like and bring it back for me? No. They didn’t. Such crummy people.
I want to get the watch cleaned and restored to its confident bright shine, the one that made my father feel good. I hope it won’t cost too much. I took a lovely old wind-up watch for fixing recently and was told $250, something that will have to wait.
Last week Fred and I drove down to see my mother’s little house and meet with the woman who has been reenting it for the last two years. My mother wanted to show the flag and also just make sure things looked okay. So there I was again, on that ground that had once meant so very much. It was a little painful, revisiting this place that I had thought was permanent, but I was happy to see the warm yellow paint and the new tiles Susan had added to the kitchen, the soft green she’d painted the living room – the weird furniture not at all my mother’s.
I will always mourn that my mother had to leave that place, no matter how much the facts are in favor of her new life in California. I didn’t know how short years were. Snap snap snap, they’re gone.