memorial for a brilliant woman

Thursday, January 02, 2014

Going Through Mom's Old Clothes

The milk Paul bought Dad to join some nice eclairs had spoiled... I had realized after I had already made a trip to the store. The cornbread needed eggs. It needed milk, too, as an afterthought. What next? Lamp? Thermos?
"You can't keep milk on the bottom shelf," I sort-of wagged my finger at my father. "It's too warm there, it'll spoil faster." as if talking to air.

I dig through more folders as he naps while simultaneously watching Jailhouse Rock.
After we've had our good luck beans, and my boyfriend has resigned to a bear's sleep on the couch, dad once again mentions the clothes. It was one of the first things he brought up when we got "grim" from the doctors. "Not yet. I'll take care of it..."

The drawers were emptied pretty fast. "Love of Jesus takes underwear, someone needs it, and they're pretty new." Pants that she only wore to clean in, or to walk, the pants I once told her looked like elephant legs because of poor cut, color.

The wardrobe was harder (I haven't gotten to the closet yet). This she loved, this she looked great in. These can't go to the come-as-you-are, these are pretty nice. What got me was one dress. It wasn't her old polka-dot dress that she wore constantly, it was a summer version with a seam down the front, almost imitating a sweetheart neckline. When she first went into the hospital, she had this same dress in a smaller size, tags still on, hanging on the door. I grabbed it, not really having any clothes at the house. I ended up wearing it two days in a row- strife does that, y'know? But finding the twin...

When I was a kid, hell, last shopping trip she'd buy something and I'd get the twin in my size. We had nightgowns, day dresses, all sorts of casual dresses that we tried not to wear at the same time. Convenient Costco buys when both of our wardrobes had to be black. It was like Freaky Friday in the laundry. That polka-dot dress was like a last joke (because why not laugh?) to me.

But, why not laugh?

This man my mother loved moved away a bit more than ten years ago. They were great friends, and as always she was a supporter and a confidant. He became the opposite of her- a Virginian transplanted into Texas. Finally fell into a lifestyle, into a wife, et cetera et cetera, but in that time she visited him. It was convenient- she attended the Austin Poetry Festival several times. She even expressed her distaste for dogs because his huge pup (she described a mastiff but it was probably a corgi) knocked her over on one meeting. She'd show the scar along with an old one from decades before on her plain shins.
The friend's eventual wedding was the big laugh. She was asked to sing during their ceremony the most appropriate wedding song around- yes, "Send in the Clowns".

Now, she always sang it beautifully. The home run was the "corsage" that (I think) the bride's mother made "specifically" for her. It was this huge bit of a baby pine tree that went straight up to her nostrils and had little frosted dingleberries as an accent. She described trying to keep it out of her face like an SNL gag. I remember her grin when she pulled it out of her suitcase to show me, giggling on the edge of the bed. They might have sold the design to Target as Christmas wall d├ęcor.

She kept it for years anyway.

Keep reading,
Alia

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