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2001: The Long Goodbye
2002: Whirling Dervish
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2004: Chicago - Day 1
2005: Pushy Mothers
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2007: Safe, Not Sorry
2008: The Transcribers' Club
2009: Hey, Mr. Postman!
2010: More on Health Care
2011: To Martini Time
2012: 50 Songs
"Midsummer Night's Dream"
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THE LAST COUSINS DAY
27 March 2013
Yes, you read that right. I have just come from the last cousins day. Of course, I didn't know it would be the last one when we planned it. Bob had his stroke in November and our previous cousins day had been a month or more before that, so it was so wonderful being back around my mother's table again.
When this picture was taken, my mother didn't know what Peach and I already knew. I had only found out an hour or so before.
My day started at 8:30, leaving to get Peach. She lives 35 miles from our house (I clocked it) but she isn't a freeway person. Before Kathy died, she did the driving. The two of them picked me up and we left our car here for Walt. After Kathy died, Bob would drive Peach to our house and I would take over from there, then he would meet us here when we got home and drive her home. With Bob no longer able to drive, Peach could not get herself here, so I drove from here to her house, picked her up, then doubled back, past Davis again and on to my mother's
On the drive we caught up on all the news. And she had a stunner for me. The doctor says that Bob has progressed so well that he will be able to leave the care facility on May 15 and the doctor felt he would do better in a home setting than in the facility. But that wasn't the stunner. Right now their son lives here and has been a big help to her, but their two daughters live in Iowa and Peach has decided that she and Bob will move to Iowa on May 16. She is flying there next week to pick out a house, which her son and his wife will buy and she will rent from them. She feels that right now there is nobody that can give her the kind of emotional support she needs now and will definitely need after Bob comes home. She is moving to a town of 2,000 people, which just got its first ATM machine this year. Her daughters and their husband are there (and daughters are -- I'm sorry, Ned and Tom -- a much closer support for a mother than a son is). She already knows several other people in the town from their past visits there. There is an active senior center and a place where Bob, a Navy man, can meet with other retired military men and talk about the old days. (He already thinks he is living in "the barracks" and goes to "the mess" for meals).
My immediate reaction was very selfish. "You're leaving me???" It took us a long time to become this close and she is the nearest person who is the closest person to me and I started to tear up just thinking about her moving. But as we talked and as she told me all the good points about all of this, it just seemed like all the pieces of a large puzzle were falling into place beautifully and I agreed that she must do this. It will be wonderful for her and especially wonderful for Bob.
She said she didn't want to tell my mother until this morning, so we didn't say anything about it. We just settled in to play 65, pleased that my mother remembered as much of how to play the game as she did.
At 4, Peach decided to mix the drinks she had brought. I put hors d'oeuvres in the oven and she started mixing.
Most of the drinks that we make for Cousins Day are mixtures of liquors and juice or cream or something to cut the alcohol. This was straight vodka mixed with straight melon liquor and the combinatin was lethal.
But it was very pretty looking...
...and it tasted, as my mother said, "like more." In fact, my mother was getting downright frisky, munching on a spinach dip profiterole.
We were giggling a lot and talking about bad words and why they are bad words and other topics that we don't realy discuss when we are together.
Peach made refills and then more refills. I somehow managed to get dinner on the table, but I was beginning to realize that I was feeling my martinis. In fact, I couldn't even eat my dinner. Peach and my mother were engaged in the kinds of deep philosophical discussions about Iowa and Springfield Place that you have when you are in your cups. Unbeknownst to them, I was in the kitchen quietly retching into the sink. I stopped drinking then, with my 4th martini untouched, but the other two finished off theirs. I can't remember when in the last thirty years I have ever been that drunk...and I think maybe only once or twice before in my life.
My mother moved from the dining room table to the living room and a proof of exactly how drunk I was was that she looked like hell and I did not take her picture. I don't think I could have focused. I did, however, stagger across the room and instantly pass out on the couch. It would have been fun to have had a sober person take our picture, 3 old bags, each passed out on a different chair or couch.
That was around 7:30. At 10 p.m., I was wide awake, feeling sober, in a dark room. My mother was gone. I hoped we hadn't killed her. Peach was sitting up on her couch and waved at me. Then she came over and sat with me and we had maybe the best conversation we have ever had, professing our love for each other (OK, maybe I wasn't as sober as I felt) and recalling all the special moments in our lives, all the way back to my visiting her when she was in boarding school in San Francisco when she was probably 8 or so. We talked about the move and how important it was and how we could still Skype and how I wanted to fly to Iowa and visit them after they are settled.
We noticed the condition of the room. The window curtains were open (my mother NEVER leaves them open), the kitchen and the table were disasters, with dirty dishes, boxes, and empty bottles everywhere (yes, we finished BOTH bottles of liquors).
I did the unforgivable -- I cleaned up the kitchen and actually loaded her dishwasher. Then Peach and I decided it was time to go to bed. I managed to sleep until 3 a.m., but have been awake since then. I lay there listening to my book, waiting for the other two to wake up.
When I saw the light go on in my mother's room, I was happy that (a) we had not killed her, and (b) that she didn't wake up yelling about how bad she felt. I went in to sit with her and she was laughing a lot. She had gone to bed in her clothes and said she had never slept in her clothes before. She must have apologized a dozen times for being a bad hostess and going to bed without saying good night and couldn't seem to grasp that we didn't even notice she had left because we were passed out.
All things considered, she felt that the previous night had been great fun. She does come from a long line of alcoholics and we felt that we had done them all proud.
We had two more games of 65 and a very light breakfast and then Peach and I packed up to come home. I took the lamp with me, finally, and a couple of bowls that I think Tom can use. I want to give my mother the sense that this is really happening. She told Peach this morning that she knows it is going to happen and she's ready (that was right after she told me she wasn't going anywhere and was going to stay there. Sigh!)
And then it was over. Cousins Day has definitely gone out with a bang, not a whimper. Peach will come back once more between her trip to Iowa and her moving there, so we can take her and show her where (I think) my mother will be moving and then...that's all she wrote, folks.
How incredibly fortunate we have been to have had this special thing in our lives for so long. Over the years we have seen the best and worst of each other. We have laughed a lot, cried a lot, and buried Kathy, a sad thing that brought us even closer together. But it is definitely time to turn the page to a new chapter for both Peach & Bob and my mother.
And I'm not going to drink anything stronger than water for a very. long. time!!!!!
PHOTO OF THE DAY
A toast to Cousins Day --
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