Friday, January 15, 2016

Surf Naked

You can buy this t-shirt at LAX,
The sky and the ocean were outdoing one another in the contest for the grayest gray as the airport shuttle zoomed down the coast this morning. Dozens of surfers bobbed in the water, wrapped in their black wetsuits from head to toe. No one was naked.

At a LAX bar, I might have gotten my gin and tonic sooner if I'd been naked. The bartender saw the blond next to me, but I was swathed in my gray-haired cloak of invisibility. This is a randomly employed power I have no control over. Sometimes both men and women make a point of telling me they love my hair. Women frequently go on to tell me they could never go gray. They don't have the right skin tone or their gray is a weird texture. Whatever. Oh! the bartender said, when he finally noticed me, startled as if I'd dropped through the ceiling onto the barstool. At least LAX has stopped carding EVERYONE. There were no silver-haired exemptions. What was that all about? Dear whoever stopped that nonsense: Thank you.

I'm on the way to see my mom at the nursing home in Iowa. I'm leaving this:

Last night's sunset

for sub-zero temperatures. I'm wearing wool leggings under my regular leggings and I have a down jacket the size of a small easy chair. My suitcase contains a wool scarf, gloves, two wool sweaters, a down vest, and wool socks thick enough to use as a pillow. There will be extensive driving on this trip. I'm rather relieved that I will not be making the drive alone. Daughter C and her husband will be my travel companions. I keep picturing this:

My mom now has a doctor that checks on her in the nursing home. She no longer has to go out in sub-zero temperatures. She no longer has to go out at all.

And it's just now occurring to me that she may never leave the premises again. Just like that. She's already gone out for the final time, perhaps, and none of us knew it. Often we don't know these last experiences are happening as they occur. It would be too much for us, I suppose,  if we knew. For the past half-dozen years, I've considered that every encounter with my mom could be the last. And that is how I will approach this visit too. I don't see the point in denying it. It's as real as the brutal cold.


37paddington said...

I know so keenly just where you are. Yes, better to notice the moments, to hold them up to the light, cherish them. I am glad you are not alone. Perhaps you will report in from Iowa on the political carnival in advance of the upcoming caucus. Or perhaps not. You will be with your mom, who is in a good place, with loved ones who visit, and she doesn't have to go out into the cold.

Joanne said...

You are an amazing daughter. Bless you.

Sabine said...

(My firat comment after reading here for a while).

This just made realise that my father will never ever come to my house again. He is still living at his home but we successfully encouraged him to not drive long distances any more. At least we hope we did. I can hear him now, shuffling along the upstairs landing and noisily tripping and stumbling down my stairs, pretending that all is a dance and stairs are nothing to get worked up about.

Have a good visit.

Elizabeth said...

I don't know why my comment didn't show up, but I think I wrote that you and your mother are so beautiful and that you, in particular have this radiance despite all the tears and sorrow and shit you've been through. What a b eautiful, beautiful daughter you are. And I also wrote that your mother looks GOOD! -- like she's filled out and isn't so gaunt? In any case, I miss you terribly and hope you'll be able to settle in to California sunshine. Sending love and continued strength and courage your way.

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