1) Through a bit of a headache I made breakfast for us at 8 AM: scrambled eggs (fluffy, just brown enough to prove neglect in the skillet, seasoned with a bit of thyme), toast and jam.
1a) I don't remember how we got on the subject of family weddings - oh! Mother said something about having had children later than the rest of the people they knew - and that set me off on the many weddings of cousins and the children of their friends that I attended as a child, starting with Alice and MIke's in 1968 (or was it 1969?), and specifics on so many others. #babblingbrook
2) We decided we would go to church, and in fact Mother had laid out her clothes the night before. I had not, and got myself into a consternation because I had not packed a dress shirt to wear with my seersucker suit. (Don't tell Etiquetteer; he'll kick my @$$ for "letting down the side.")
2a) I don't advise getting yourself into a consternation. No matter what size it is, it won't fit you well.
2b) Once at church and witnessing the congregation arrive, I don't know why I bothered. The idea of "Sunday best" on which I was raised in that church has been abandoned almost entirely. And when I think of how sharply my daddy and men like Mr. Dickens used to be turned out . . . tsk tsk tsk.
3) As always on such occasions, it was very important to Mother to inroduce me around to people who didn't know (and to some who already did). As the vise of headache tightened around me, I did my best to keep on my happy face and make small talk.
4) The service began with what I can only describe as a cocktail-hour arrangement for piano of "Take My Hand, Lord."
5) For a couple years in his early eighties, Daddy went through a period of weepiness when listening to favorite music or old movies that made him sentimental or regretful. And I have noticed on the (rare) occasions when I am back in a church, I am not entirely in command of my voice when a good, proper, forthright hymn is put forward on the organ as it should be. And such was the case today. This is not entirely attributable to the headache.
6) The sermon was given by a Prominent Methodist Revivalist, who is visiting for an Actual Revival at First Methodist that began tonight. He had some good points, but my ability to accept more words into my head was becoming compromised.
7) Finalmente, the service ended, and I was able to bolt to the mens' room (sadly renovated to replace the gigantic porcelain urinals from when the building was built in the 1920s). Returning I greeted the associate pastor, a pleasant young lady, at the entrance. As we chatted I was approached by several different friends of Mother's (not all of whom I'd known as a child), and I found I was well located to see all the people Mother wanted me to see.
8) She, of course, was still in the sanctuary talking with someone else, and I was reminded of Laura's childhood nickname for Mother, "Walkie Talkie." Because after church she'd always be walking and talking and still never getting any nearer to the car.
9) Afterward we joined the Lunch Bunch, another group of Methodist widows, for brunch at ye Pewjo Strytte Café, one of the best restaurants downtown that I never seem to get to. I ended up at the head of the table (the only two seats left were there), with Mother on my left and a friend of hers from LSU (!) on my right who I didn't know very well. Turns out we have similar political views and ended up having a really engaging chat.
9a) But I have to say, the kitchen must have been waiting for the hens to lay the eggs or something, because the wait for the food was interminable. Awfully good when it got there - I had gumbo and then Maryland Benedict, om nom nom - but I thought my head would burst in half at any moment before it got there.
10) I was home and in bed at 1:52 PM and officially got back out of bed at 4:50 PM. I can't say I slept all that time - sometimes all there is to do is writhe in agony - but mercy goodness, I needed that.
11) Mother's wonderful across-the-street neighbor was on the phone when I slouched into the kitchen, a lady I really like. But when Mother put her on speaker phone, I realized that I had taken in too many words already today and needed quiet. We agreed that returning to church for the revival would not be best.
11a) Instead, we ended up talking about cookbooks. Yesterday I'd rounded up ALL the cookbooks in the house and put them in the dining room. During my three hours of naptime, Mother started going through them - slowly - and set aside the predictable standbys to keep. There remained a very large stack of mostly spiral bound cookbooks from different organizations. Mother took up a thick one on top: "I won't need this." Then she saw a pink Post-It. "Why is this page marked?" Alas, a relative contributed a recipe for beef burgundy! An argument ensued about keeping a cookbook for ONE recipe vs. donating a spiral book with a page torn from it. Mother actually asked "Don't you like beef burgundy?" "That is not the question, Mother. The question is whether or not you are ever going to make the recipe." I ripped the page from the book, put it with the keeper cookbooks, and retreated to the tub.
12) This is actually a pretty accurate gauge of my state.
13) Mother was not that hungry, so we ended up having a light dinner at Yank Sing, a nearby Chinese restaurant where she and Daddy used to go. Won ton soup and "a ton of chow mein" in honor of my grandparents "having courted in all the Chinese restaurants in the Twin Cities."
14) Back home, I felt I must do something to keep on track, so I managed to clear off the kitchen table by sorting some papers, create a drawer in The Room for a box of Uncle Bill's treasures, do two loads of laundry, and wash the few "good" dishes that didn't go in the dishwasher.
15) The treasures included this portraite of my great-grandfather Joseph Houska. Jewelry of his that had been preserved by the family is at the top of this post.
16) Mother, always suspicious that we are throwing out something she wants to keep, announced that she was going to bed and then promptly started going through the two boxes of books I'd repacked to donate to the library. I, of course, wanted nothing to do with it - they were going and that was that. "Mother! You said you were going to bed half an hour ago!"
16a) She made a somewhat disturbing discovery, a small softbound book called Eneas Africanus, which turns out to be the most popular pro-slavery novel of the 20th century! AIGH! After Mother read aloud every blessed word of the linked website above, I shredded the poisonous little volume. We both agreed that that was no kind of literature to donate anyplace.
16b) The big mystery is how on earth such a book could come to be owned by her family. Mother thinks maybe her father bought it along with other books about the South before they moved to Lago di Carlo in 1943.
17) Impossibly, it's now after 11 PM. I have two full days remaining of this trip, and a great deal still to do!