As I sorted through a gazillion books and dvds, unpacked boxes, put things away, and found room when it seemed there was no more room to be found, it struck me that instead of doing all that at my parents’ new apartment in the Old Folks’ Home, I should be doing it in MY home. I have 1400+ dvds (yes, mostly Hindi) plus twelve million books (I am not exaggerating), mostly stacked in unruly piles which threaten to kill Gemma should they topple over on her. Obviously, I realized, I have come by my dvd/book habits honestly. But somehow the organizing and putting-away gene escaped me (except when Mom is cracking the whip).
While I moved furniture and flattened boxes, Gemma panted in sympathy for me in the 150-degree temperature which people over 70 always seem to maintain in their homes. She also refused to go to sleep, I think afraid that I might leave her there to slowly roast.
Once when I took her outside I saw a little old man arguing furiously with the large (but very polite) head chef about the gravy served in the dining room. The chef was pointing out nicely that he feeds a lot of people every day and nobody else has complained about his gravy, but his diminutive foe remained vociferous in his antipathy for it (especially on turkey, I gathered). Next time I go, I will be ordering something with gravy for sure.
Meanwhile, no matter how many times my mother and I showed him the shelf full of them, Dad remained convinced that the Super Studs had never packed his opera dvds. Finally in an effort to distract him we made him go for a walk with us, but we got lost and went too far and had to push him, totally exhausted and confused, back home in a wheelchair (they are, thank goodness, littered all over the place for such eventualities). Last evening we watched an apt but bittersweet film called Mrs. Palfrey at The Claremont starring Joan Plowright as an elderly widow who moves into a room (rented by the month) at a run-down hotel in London hoping for a little taste of excitement and independence in her waning years. It was really good but depressed me unutterably.
This afternoon I took a long cab ride home (too tired for the train) with Miss Gemma on my lap, driven by a muscular guy named Joe who regaled me with a sad tale about losing his home and car thanks to his girlfriend, who had been funneling all the money he gave her for mortgage and car payments to another (supposedly ex) boyfriend instead. When he came home one evening and saw the extra boyfriend in bed with her, he went to a neighbor’s and drank an entire bottle of tequila before returning and taking an aluminum bat to the extra boyfriend, breaking both his legs, one arm, and his jaw before the police intervened.
He told me that now he receives a $25,000 hospital bill every month which the court ordered him to pay, but he returns it (unpaid) every time with a note telling the hospital that the victim has all his money.
When he dropped me off, he gave me a big discount on my fare and asked me to call him for lunch next time I’m out there. Which, if the gravy at the Old Folks’ Home is really that bad and my dad is still fretting over his opera dvds, I might do.