Saturday, January 10, 2009

Regrette beaucoup – a stitch in time



My childless day is interrupted by the presence of Nonna and Thatcher, the dog. I find it difficult to be productive with their added responsibility, ever present. The sewing machine seems like a bad idea, as Thatcher is at the chewing stage of puppy-hood and Nonna is at the helping stage of any project that is allowed to see the light of day. Whilst I’m tempted to hide from them both and steal half an hour in the garage to use the pottery wheel, I know that the step may prove hazardous to my followers and that the interior of the garage has yet to be puppy-proofed.

Instead I opt for mass food production in the kitchen where well wishers and scavengers are expected, although which is which, is debatable. Nonna and Thatcher graze and nibble collectively. Food scraps and dogs could be a slippery slope, but for the time being they are both content. I suspect that there is some un-written rule that permits grandparents to take liberties with household pets as well as their grandchildren. We trot through her traditional enquiries:-
“Where he is?”
“Work.”
“Where dey are?”
“School.”
“Where are dah cats?”
“Hiding.”
“Wot day it is?”
“The 6th Tuesday, January and now we’re in 2009.”
“We ave had New Year den?”
“Yes.”
“Did we ave fun?”
“Lots of fun. You had a little nap but we were all awake for the first time ever, all together.”
“Oh……dat’s alright den.”
We reach a natural pause, it’s the pause we have before we cycle through them all again. I grit my teeth in anticipation and attack the potatoes. The evidence of her restless night lies in the overflowing coffee dregs.
“So……..Maddy?”
“Yes?”
“You know………..I tink I go for a walk.”
“Really? Which way do you want to go?”
“Just up dah road………to dah shops and back.”
“Great idea.” I know that my agreement is far too enthusiastic but I also know that it will take about half an hour before she’s ready to go. There is an even chance that by the time she is ready to go that she’ll have forgotten that she planned to go anywhere. Either way this provides enough time to finish off preparing dinner and be ready as a companion, as well as walk Thatcher.

When she appears in the kitchen with one glove, I kick off my slippers, dash to retrieve the rest of her belongings and bellow over my shoulder, “hang on a minute, I’ll come with you.” I return with all her mislaid items to hand to her, including the little address card with all our pertinent details. As she takes her things she flutters, “no………I go on my own………you get on with your sewings and tings.”

I am immediately riddled with guilt, that she has read my mind, rebuffed. I try to think of what to say, something that isn’t condescending, something reassuring and genuine. “It’s o.k. I was going to walk Thatcher anyway, we can go together.”
“No, no, no…..I go on my own. Bye bye den.” She turns on her heel to leave, pauses and then heads off in the other direction to take the front door route. I rub my palms on my trousers. She’s an adult. At home she walks for miles on the beach, alone. How tiresome to have no independence. As the door clicks shut I glare at the sewing machine, my secret undoing. My mind is too muddled to sew, so instead I tidy Nonna’s room, which bears a strong resemblance to that of a teenager.

Only a few minutes later I hear the door click and dash to see what is amiss. Nonna rests on the door jam clutching her gloves. “Are you o.k.?”
“Yes……..I am too tired to walk today.”
“?”
“I am going to sit down.” She steps unsteadily towards the table and plops into a chair to pat the sewing machine lightly, repeatedly, rhythmically. “I’ll get you a coffee.” I watch her out of the corner of my eye, from the kitchen, count the breaths of asthma. I put a small biscuit on the saucer of the diabetic. Her hand moves to the plush toy on the table, “wot’s dis ting den?”
“Webkinz,” I bellow.
I return to the table to join her. An espresso cup for her, a vat for me. I loathe that downcast look of defeat.
“I think I’ll get on with this sewing pattern……..I don’t suppose you’re up to tackling the Webkinz for me?”
“Wot?”
“I hate hand sewing.”
“Wot?”
“The Webkinz……he’s sprung a leak. The seams bust on his tummy and I hate mending.” I push the bowl of threads towards her. She chuckles as her fingers run over the spools, “you’re not fooling me Maddy.”
“?”
“It was a very small Biscotti, probably worth six or seven stitches.”

5 comments:

Niksmom said...

Maddy, I remember well when my grandparents (Dad's parents) lived with us for quite some time. We were fortunate that we had an "in-law apartment" added on the house. Still, the challenges of watching loved ones age and struggle while being respectful of their emotions and intellect...it's such a delicate balance. I am in awe of how well you seem to manage it. Perhpas not perfectly (is there such a thing) but certainly with grace, compassion, and heart. Nonna is lucky to have you.

Melissa said...

The final line of this post is endearing. Bless your heart Maddy.

Jayne said...

It's all worth it in the end ;)

Scribbit said...

Your writing was very poignant--if that isn't a funny word to use. It touched me.

Osh said...

:)