I usually stay away from personal stuff in this blog. But I’m currently in Alabama with my 81-year-old mom, helping my 89-year-old aunt pack up the big old historic home in which they both were born for my aunt’s impending move to a retirement community–and my mind is pretty far from Writer Beware right now. So here’s a snapshot of a more or less typical day.
Get up around 8:30, having been disturbed only twice in the night by the raccoon doing the tarantella in the chimney (it climbs up through the open stone fireplace in the dirt basement, which is where all the cooking was done in 1830, when the house was built). Transition from the temperate zone of the house (my bedroom) to the tropical zone (the rest of it). Eat breakfast in the kitchen, which is around 90 degrees because my aunt gets cold–but we can’t eat in the dining room, which is slightly cooler, because the table is completely covered by an ever-changing collection of porcelain and silver, as my aunt tries to make up her mind which fraction of her vast possessions to take to the retirement community, and there’s no room to put down a plate.
Move to the sun room–which is not sunny due to the fact that the curtains, which shut out most of the light, have been draped with blankets, to shut out even more light–to do some catching up on email. It’s 80 degrees in here–not as bad as the kitchen, but I can’t go back to the temperate zone because this is the only place I can piggyback on someone else’s non-security-enabled wireless and get access to the Internet.
Tap, tap, tap away at my computer, while listening to my aunt and my mom arguing in the office. My mom wants my aunt to throw out useless papers, of which there are enough in this house to furnish a Presidential library. My aunt doesn’t want to. My mom gets frustrated. My aunt gets angry. It’s all complicated by the fact that my aunt is getting quite deaf. Fun, fun, fun.
Around noon, go out for a run. Lovely sunny weather–around 58 degrees. Alabamians all bundled up in winter gear (I’ve lost count of the number of people I’ve heard complain about how cold it is). Me, the Massachusetts-ite, in capri tights and a sleeveless top. Freedom. Ahhhh.
Lunch in the 90-degree kitchen. My mom misses NYC, where she lives. My aunt, a Southerner to the bone, is skeptical about all aspects of the nawth. Then they start reminiscing about their childhoods, which is fun and interesting. But it’s too hot, so I go off to do some drawer-mining.
There are about 100 drawers in this house, and they are all stuffed full of, well, stuff. I’m hunting for things to throw away and things we can sell (money is pretty tight), but also scouting for important papers, which have been turning up in some exceedingly odd places, such as the drawer of the vanity in my aunt’s bathroom (my aunt, by the way, has all her marbles and then some, but she’s the most disorganized person I’ve ever known). I’ve managed to find documents pertaining to the renovation of the house in the 1980’s and its subsequent placement on the National Historic Register (both important for the realtor we’re planning to hire) and I’ve hidden them in my room so they won’t vanish.
Later, run some errands. Dinner in the 90-degree kitchen–I’m a vegetarian and my aunt and mom are not, so I cook for myself. My mom tired and frustrated. My aunt sweet and cheerful. I clean up. Then, back to the sun room, to WATCH TV FOR DEAF PEOPLE! REALLY LOUD!! REALLY, REALLY LOUD!!! But I need to answer email, and it’s better than the 90-degree kitchen.
Then bedtime, with my friend the raccoon. And ghostly knocking in the middle of the night. And peculiar noises as if people were banging planks together in the basement. But at least it’s cool.