Tuesday, February 13, 2018

The Olympic torch, reimagined

It was a fairly ordinary Sunday morning. CSB took Mom to church while the household's resident heathen lolled by the fire and did the crossword. He brought Mom back here with him, and she happily ensconced herself in the red velvet overstuffed wing chair by the fireplace. She went through the motions of reading a newspaper. Regarding a photograph on the front page of the opening ceremonies for the Olympics, she questioned, "Why are they all wearing the same hats?"
She asked several times what the date was and then checked what I said with the date printed on the newspaper.

Then she tipped over the ottoman where she had been resting her feet and began counting the bees on the fabric. It is a lovely pink Scalamandré silk with gold bees patterned across it, quite Napoleonic.

Mom said, "But it's been nice, I've been in here, I've been in there, I've been on the other side."
I said, "The other side of what?"
Mom said, "Of what I was involved before."

Then it was time to pick up my brother and his wife at the train station. It was pouring rain and I didn't want them to get soaked. I banked the fire and put the screen in front, and said, "Mom, I'm going to pick up Carl and Sandra. Carl, your son, and his wife, Sandra. That is: Carl, your son, and his wife, Sandra."
She said, "Well we just had them a matter of a week and maybe a bit more and what happened to them. Nothing happened to them. They just all hung around. He just appeared and he was really nice." (I think this means she thinks fondly of Carl, whoever he is.)
"Okay," I said, "Just don't touch the fire. I'll be right back. Chucker is just in the kitchen."

I drove the .6 miles down the train station, picked up my brother and sister-in-law, and returned. We emerged from the car and my brother note the pleasant scent of a wood burning fire. Did I notice that the scent was stronger than it should have been? I wish I could say I did.
CSB met us at the door, looking somewhat startled. A minute after I had left for the station, he had come into the living room to check on Mom, and through the large front window he saw my mother standing on the front porch waving a blazing Olympic torch. In fact, it was the fireplace broom, and the straw was flaming. My guess is that she thought she could put it out that way. But I can only guess, and I certainly cannot ask her. She was sitting comfortably in the red wing chair when we walked in, unfazed.

So, one scorched broom, and the house still stands.

A day like many others. A day like no other. I have to admit, I am annoyed that CSB did not take a photo of my mother with the torching broom before he actually put out the fire. Also grateful.


Frances Greenberg said...

Glad all survived, mother, CSB, house & ottoman. Sorry about the broom

Lindsay duPont said...

So glad the flames were extinguished and that you are so funny! xx Lindsay

Lilla said...

I love your up-close description of your mother's words. It reminds me of a great but later disgraced psychiatrist, who treated his schizophrenic patients by entering their world. I am glad that her druidical performance ended OK. Did she think she could tidy up the fire? Didn't we all try to do that when we were kids?

Rebecca Rice said...

I, too, love all the wonderful details about this piece--your mother counting the bees on the silk fabric, her cryptic language about being here and there (she sounds like a Zen priest), and your funny, but scary, vision of her waving the flaming broom like an Olympic torch! This is lovely prose, and reminds me so much of John Bayley's memoir about Iris Murdoch! Thanks!