1) Arrived shortly after 6 PM following delayed departure from DFW. Kid Sister was waiting for me in baggage claim after a long day of both work and driving to Lago di Carlo. She’d already stocked up on groceries and Chinese takeout. I persuaded her to run to ye Hykus Pykus for some firewater, and then home.
2) Driving from the airport, I was surprised and then VERY delighted to hear on her car stereo this arrangement of “You’re Undecided Now So What Are You Gonna Do?” by the Ames Brothers with Les Brown and his Band of Renown. Happy memories of childhood! This was one of my musical obsessions for awhile when I was maybe ten years old. Turns out Laura had the disc Daddy had burned from the LP of “The Memory Years,” and I remembered all the tracks: the jazz arrangement of Chopin’s famous Polonaise, Pearl Bailey singing “The Birth of the Blues,” some old duffer singing “It’s Three O’Clock in the Morning.” Hearing all that, I felt sure we would accomplish everything we needed to.
2a) Now it is very important for you to realize that, although both my sister and I were born in the 1960s, we did not grow up listening to 1960s music. I don’t even think we heard anything about the Beatles until 1975! No, for us it was classical music, popular music of the 1940s and 1950s, and shudder EZ Listening and Mantovani.
3) Laura warned me before we even walked inside that the house now smelled like Gramma’s house because of all the mustiness stirred up while sorting and cleaning through everything. And of course I have absolutely not problem with that, because Gramma’s house was always the best place in the world to go, so . . . so how beautiful to have that olfactory memory.
4) Laura showed me all the progress she and her family (at different times) have been making, and it’s significant. Parts of the house looks just as always, others rather haphazard and makeshift with the absence of furniture and the inevitable piles of things to sort through. Mother’s beautiful hats from before we were born (that she never wore), and so much else.
5) Questions started almost immediately. A small cardboard jewelry box left on my dresser full of U.S. buttons, basketball charms, and tiny plastic chess pieces from a forgotten chess board. Were these Daddy’s? There will be so many questions like this now, and no one to answer them any longer.
6) Laura left quite a few stacks of things like Mother’s old datebooks (going back to at least 1977) on my bed, with photographs, and also a diary. A diary! An entry for 1974, then an entry for 1994, and then pages and pages from 2005, when we were planning their 50th wedding anniversary.. Mother saved every letter, note, or postcard she ever received (thank goodness!). But while Laura is disposing of quite a lot, she’s making sure I’m getting all the cards and letters I sent to Mother. So it’s funny seeing all those greeting cards again. Mother always said I found wonderful and original cards to send her!
7) By Monday morning everything coming back to Boston has to be packed and ready to go and (mostly) confined to my room. So the next three days are going to be a flurry of packing, seeing Mother’s friends, and going to church. Discipline! I can just hear our childhood babysitter Mrs. Johnson saying “Do it now!”