Speaking of very. last. things . . .
My gigi has changed since her stroke. She's recovered splendidly, but she's not the same.
She made us throw away all of her puzzles. She says she never wants to do another puzzle as long as she lives.
Things change. People change. Life goes on. Without puzzles.
We've had to move Gigi from her retirement community into an assistant living facility.
I really wanted to help sort through and move her things--linger over them without being rushed and having to make decisions. (Actually I wanted to spend the night in her apartment by myself before it was dismantled, but my hub thought that was a little creepy.)
It wasn't creepy, it was just me not wanting to forget. The old Gigi. The one who could do 1,000 piece mosaic puzzles without batting an eye.
See I never got to look through my dad's apartment after he died. Not that I couldn't have, I just didn't. Sometimes I still walk through his apartment in my mind, but I can't place anything specific. I don't know where anything belongs? What books were left open on the nightstand? What kind of toothpaste did he use? Was his bed made? Was his bathroom clean?
(Please, please, please don't let me die until my bathrooms are clean.)
Two things I remember about the autopsy report. He died of an overdose, and he had peaches in his stomach.
His last meal was a bowl of peaches.
Peaches is one thing I know will be there when I open his fridge in my mind. Everything else is a fill-in-the-blank.
I didn't want all those empty spaces with my Gigi. When I go through her apartment in my mind, I want to know what's in her fridge. That's why last Saturday morning I went over to her place early, by my very own self, so I could linger over her life--her tidy compartmentalized drawers, stacked with little empty things. Little empty notebooks and address books, little empty purses and boxes. Even Papa's Purple Heart box was empty.
(If you ever need somewhere to store your thoughts or your addresses or your lipsticks or your Purple Heart, I can hook you up.)
I took my time, making mental notes about her neatly folded, brilliantly white underwear, and the enthusiastic collection of fake jewelry. The jumbo sized crossword puzzle books and the cowboy poetry. The walkman and the cassette tapes of Tennessee Ernie Ford, Glen Campbell and my Papa's funeral. And the 50-plus pair of her colored stretchy pants, (because, when you are a grandma, sometimes you wear stretchy pants in your room.) (hee hee) (Couldn't help myself.)
I wanted to touch everything and commit it to memory--shelve it right beside to all the other memories I have of Gigi before she lost interest in puzzles.
Most of these memories are linked to food--bean with bacon soup, pancakes, Oreos, quesadillas, Carnation Instant Breakfast, watermelon, Shasta Cola, Whoppers and taffy.
As a child I ranked my relatives according to how much they fed me.
Food was my primary lub language back then. Well, food and soap operas. My Gigi liked both so she spoke my language.
It stands to reason then that I should document my Gigi by the very. last. things found in her kitchen. Before the change:
- 2 jars of pickles
- Lemon Nestea
- Green Tea (Gasp!)
- 2 jars of bread and butter chips
- 2 boxes of mac and cheese
- Starbucks napkins
- Cucumber Melon hand soap
- Gourmet BBQ sauce
- A bag of cheetos
- 2 sugar ice cream cones
- A bag of black eyed peas
- 2 jars of Nutella
- 4 boxes of granola bars
- A can of sliced beets
- A jar of spicy brown mustard
- 8 oz jar of picante sauce
- 6 jumbo sized boxes of Instant Breakfast