Condition of Bat Segundo: Nursing bunion and reconsidering wisdom
of switching to such a cramped and irritating roost.

Or was that my mother? I could only wish.

What will of the wisp fantasy had lured us to think her moving in with Rick and me would work? She and I were just too different. Of course, it took only minimal common ground for me to understand her aversion to shuffling the halls of a nursing home with other
rheumy-eyed tight-permed biddies, like so many promenading poodles. Instead, she was currently enthroned in her recliner in what was previously our master suite. It was still the master suite--just not ours, the household master's identity having undergone a subtle shift.
"Your mother wears army boots," had been muttered in my presence, and I hadn't bothered to debate it. She was probably watching Wheel of Fortune at a decibel level that added a handy-dandy vibrating feature to said recliner, wondering where the hell I was.

The hell I was in was her half-emptied apartment, kneeling amid teetering stacks of long-unread books, Mom's eyesight and attention span having declined in tandem. Those volumes I didn't recognize from my childhood had come from her addictive prowling of garage sales and used book stores. Spurred by the enticing scent of paper mites and a primal urge to escape the bonds of domesticity, Mom would go what my father had called "galleycatting", returning home bedraggled but sated to curl up on the couch amid found dreams of places yet unvisited and lives not her own. The muddle of evidence surrounded me, sorted into "keep under pain of death" and "sneak into 'storage' i.e. garage sale.'" I'd been determined; the latter pile far exceeded the former. My husband labored toward the door, back bowed beneath a weighty carapace of bookcase. He looked like a demented terrapin.

"My hero."

"The roar of the greasepaint, the smell of the crowd." His grunted reply, even without the perverse wording, sounded less than sincere. I took pity.

"Drop everything and give me ten ...books."

"Gladly, Serge." The bookcase thudded to the floor. Rick, wheezing but with less of a thud, settled alongside. "So which of these piles do we kiss goodbye?"

"The big one."

"Good, because our place is already overfilled with our own useless crap."

I smiled. We were both collectors, happily redefining "clutter" as "wealth."

"Don't be a snark," I said, running my hand over a carved cover topping the taller stack--a book I'd admired since infancy but still couldn't name. I examined the gold-embellished binding--"Longfellow's Poetical Works."

"That's in the wrong pile, isn't it?" Rick said.

Fifty-odd years and I still hadn't read it. Possibly never would. Still, when I set it down, the disparity between the heights of the stacks lessened marginally.

The procedure repeated itself several times, and eventually I gave up and shoved the two piles together.

Rick laughed. "You are your mother's daughter."

I sighed. Whoever said the truth will set you free?

Miss Snark sees her future...and Pat Sajak appears to be in it!

Scoring to come


Nightfahl said...

I liked this one :)

JLB said...

Someone must know my mother... she and those before her have the packrat gene. They've been happily redefining "clutter" as "wealth" for generations! I must resist!

California Jackson said...

Love the found dreams.