Saturday, October 05, 2013

October Memoir and Back Story Challenge - childhood - post #3

Make sure your grandmother is ready when I show up

the phone rings and it's my aunt
she's coming over
we're going shopping
I'm getting a knot in my tummy

I'm to get my grandmother ready
she doesn't have a lot of time to waste
I'm told

my grandmother has rushed to get ready
many times
only to sit there
in her peacock blue wool coat
black brimmed hat and
black leather shoes with the 2" heel that I help her lace up
and fit over her stockings
with the bandages beneath them
She has her polka dot scarf and as she sits
and waits
she slowly snaps
and unsnaps
the metal clasp on her black handbag
with each snap
my anger rises

we sit and wait
my aunt is late
my grandmother is getting angry
I try to take her mind off of it
she is ignoring me

I swallow my fear and say anything I can think of to keep my grandmother calm
lying right to her face wishing my aunt would just get here
I secretly support my grandmother's rage
but it would do us no good to show it.

in spite of my efforts
she takes off her peacock blue wool coat
casting it onto her bed
the hat comes off next
she gets irritated
when it catches her black bobby pin
undoing her carefully crafted pincurl
near her ear
She pulls the scarf off, balls it up
and places it alongside her purse on her floral bedspread

I tug at her dress
plead with her not to
I tell her Barbara is coming
and she'll be mad
so mad
if she is not ready
my grandmother doesn't understand
she doesn't know
it's my job to make sure they don't fight
I'm going to fail

I promise her
that at any moment
my aunt will appear
and we will go
right away
and we'll have fun
and so my aunt arrives
opening the front door
moving into the house forcefully

again we are not ready

again I have not done this one simple thing

again there are raised voices

again I try to calm things down so we can just go
we can go, can't we?


Deb Stone said...

Heartbreaking. One person does the work, the other swoops in on her own timeclock unaware of the effort it takes to prepare. You've captured it here.

Amanda M. Darling said...

What a beautiful, lyrical description of a moment of frustration.

cs said...

WOW. This is so vivid.

Joy Weese Moll (@joyweesemoll) said...

That is powerful and sad. Right there with every moment.

Anonymous said...

What a great way to write the post. It made me think of my own grandmother. I loved your descriptions. I could feel the frustration.

Jane Ann McLachlan said...

Oh, this was so moving! I was completely captured by the child's point of view, and yet I also thought, what if the aunt keeps thinking, last time they weren't ready when I came so this time I'll give them longer.
I loved your ending. A beautiful poem!

Linda G Hatton said...

Beautiful poem. I felt for the child (you?) about being in the position of having to keep the peace.

Gerry said...

I could so identify with this! I became the caretaker for my grandmother as an adult, and that was hard enough. I loved that you wrote it as a poem and wondered if that gave you the distance to be able to tell it. Lovely.