Tuesday, July 29, 2003

Grandmother died yesterday. Or perhaps it was the day before, I can't be too sure.

My brother sent me the message in a brief e-mail and noted that this was "no doubt a blessing" as she was "certainly getting worse and worse."

The things you say when people die.

Then he said he was "a little concerned about our Mom, because she has such strong emotions about her mother." I was intrigued by his use of "our," as though "Mom" by itself weren't descriptive enough. Otherwise he's right, though who doesn't have strong emotions about their mother? Well not everyone smashes every dish in her mother's kitchen, crying and screaming, as her children sit shuddering in horror in the living room. I remember Grandma drifted in and sat beside us on the couch, eerily calm amid the din, and said banal things like I don't know what's wrong with your mother, she seems upset.

Grandma saw a shrink, Doctor Peterson, every week or maybe twice a week for untold years.

Where was Dad when the plates were smashed? Can't remember, though I imagine he was in the kitchen trying to reason. He loathed his mother-in-law but has one thing in common with her: obliviousness.

I experienced a faint pang of sorrow at the news. But frankly, no distress.

This morning on the way to the kitchen I fixed a loose picture in a frame and thought of Tom Waits singing, "Ever since I put your picture in a frame," and I remembered with regret Aimee's framed pictures she gave me, one for the bedside and one for the dresser. Then I saw the shadow of a bird on the wall outside shrugging and twitching its wings.