I sat and had tea with Roger's mother (and Roger) last night, and it was so reminiscent of sitting at the kitchen table with my grandmother, I felt a little teary inside. There's a bit of an age difference, so I didn't want to offend her by comparing her, my boyfriend's mom, to my grandmother, even though there's about 15 years difference. Past 80, I think it's fair to stop reminding people they're past 80.
Anyway, it was a cool night, and she likes to make tea, and I ended up awake til 5am but damn if it didn't feel so much like coming home after a long time away. I was pleasantly surprised by this. I guess most times we stop by there's a bunch of folks there, or it's mid-day and her shows are on, but yesterday ended up with just the three of us, and we sat at the old worn out kitchen table* that reminds me of mine, inherited from my own grandparents not that long ago, and had tea.
We talked about Leh's, and she showed us old glasses and bits of advertising on swizzle sticks of places around Allentown, PA that are long gone. She can be a funny lighthearted lady. She can tell a good dirty joke. But she can also be stern. Her grown kids don't cross her. She still runs her house with the long arm of a parent with Presence. She nursed her bedridden husband for four long years before he passed. Her boys are Pretty Good People and very devoted, but also kind and helpful to everyone in general.
And she talked about how she cleaned her floors every day, and dusted all her furniture, with six people in the house every day and that lit me up pretty good. It was my first time really finding a connection with her. I helped her clean her vent grates and we talked about how hard it was to see the quality of our cleaning go downhill for health reasons. It's funny because we had gone so Rog could spend time with her, and I ended up kinda getting this huge nostalgia hug, with bonus bonding.
I think the first time I spent any amount of time with her, almost two years ago, I was a little intimidated. Here I was blowing in off the heels of helping her son's best friend through cancer, and who knows what she thought about what had been going on (and we certainly didn't fill her in), but it didn't seem to matter, and there we sat, this time four of us: me, Rog, his sister Linda, and her, and played some Gin Rummy. I was rusty as hell, but I ended up winning the first game and she the second and all in all it was a good few hours of just sitting and talking and laying down cards. I can't sit for long in a chair, and this was before the second back surgery (though it's not any better now), but it was an easy feeling, one I hadn't been aware I'd missed until I was aware, you know?**
Oh, and the house has bits and bobs in every nook. A row of Scottie dog statues next to a ceramic garlic braid, one that's in everyone's house from a trip to Italy years ago, along with the daughter's amazing paintings, and pictures of weddings and growing kids, stuff crammed in everywhere. It's a home that's been the same family home for an entire lifetime, and it's amazing to me. I've been going there for 2 years, and while I knew right away his family was a good kind, I hadn't seen past to the heart of it, and that is that they were the old-fashioned, close, traditional family unit that somehow stayed together to the end.
In my life our childhood home disappeared at 10, and my closest parent (my dad) moved out of the house we maturated in in our 20s. My mom sold her home and moved states away. There's no childhood home for me. And no one took up the mantle. Not for long. We're all scattered. Trying, but spread thin and getting thinner. Still a family, just... different. Not as close. No bits and bobs.
But there they are, doing The Thing. And it's nice.
Sit down. Have some tea.
*Anne Mollo I'm thinking of you. :)
**My writing skills feel so rusty. I'm also feeling Penna Dutch-y as I'm writing, and I know it's from talking with my nextdoor neighbor awhile today.