Thursday, March 19, 2009
The Love of God
In Chicago taking care of The Great Aunt this week. She's in a mood today. She’s annoyed because I’d like to shower and take a walk. When I tell her after two hours of coffee, looking at pics and chatting up the charm of grandkids that I need to do some work, I read her disbelief. I tell her I’ve got a writing deadline and some mail to answer. She rolls her eyes. She says severely: I can SEE things are AS USUAL.
I know I shouldn’t respond. Soon she reappears in her turquoise teddy bear sweatshirt to glare at me from the lazyboy, waiting for lunch. I fix her a chicken sandwich and she declares it the best she’s ever had. We watch a Law and Order rerun because she’s in love with the detective, Brisco. I mix up some ginger molasses cookies. When the dough is made into little round balls dipped in sugar, she helps by flattening them with a glass bottom. Then she tells me she’s never liked ginger cookies. She might, she says, if they had chocolate chips in them. When the first batch is cooled she eats four with a cup of tea.
Last night I read to her from her “Choice Gleanings” calendar. The scripture verse was Who can separate us from the love of God? Nothing. She got misty eyed. It was her husband’s favorite verse. “Gleanings” always ends with a poem that gags me, but she finds them familiar and lovely. I asked if she ever painted or wrote when she was younger.
“No. None of us five girls ever did anything. We weren’t encouraged!” She remembers liking hymns from a book used at her New Bedford church in the 1920s. One day she wrote her own verses to a tune and showed them to her mother who was petite, prim, and permanently pissed off -- though the Great Aunt would never say so -- who said, OH, RUTH! The tone must have been derisive because she said, I never (ne-vah) wrote again.
Wasn’t your father artistic? “Oh, yes. He took painting lessons when we were little. But he quit.” She pointed to a painting of her father’s boyhood home in Scotland. No droopy vines and dripping purple sunsets with little windows aglow. Just a worn path leading to a thatched cottage, and a few golden flowers. Sort of impressionistic. Nicely done.
Who wants to be eighty-eight with Alzheimer’s? The Great Aunt has not asked for this.