Saturday, May 7, 2011

Mother’s Day

The day began as a model day in the country. The sun was shining brilliantly, the sky was perfectly clear and there was a promise of continued fine weather and warm temperatures for the remainder of the weekend, “Mother’s Day” weekend.

We initiated our affairs by peeling to the golf club for breakfast. The River meandering about the club house was bulging from recent plentiful rains. Everything was an emerald green and many of the flowers were already in full bloom. As we arrived at the club house earlier than usual there were not as many people there as we are accustomed to see, which turns out to be a good thing because the dining room was set up for a banquet. We did however manage to locate an undecorated table for our present purpose. Our cheery server Tiffany took our respective breakfast orders efficiently and with a smile. We treated ourselves to the standard weekend fare of bacon, eggs, sausage and accompanying toast, home fries and English muffin with crunchy peanut butter and sliced green apple, coffee and milk. Truly an athlete’s way to start the day!

Back home we received people at 8:30 a.m. to look at the Steinway. This was apparently the only time the technician hired by the prospective purchaser was available to scrutinize the piano. I continue to have reservations about selling the instrument, though admittedly I am not persuaded one way or the other. After having dedicated the past thirty-five years of my life to the acquisition of nice things it is no small task to let them go no matter how compelling the reason may now be. I flatter myself to think that the source of my consternation is the love of the piano, but I confess my talent (though flamboyant) is lacking in refinement. The truth is my playing has become utterly tiresome and there is a very real threat that the piano will become nothing more than an expensive piece of furniture. A moment’s reflection reminds me that the battle raging within me is merely a contest between having things or money. Additionally I take enormous consolation in the words of my father who recently observed that one can always buy another Steinway. Seen in this light, the dilemma is far less emotional.

My material world has always been important to me, at least since I started working and had some money to throw around. I admit that during my early years of study at boarding school and afterwards in undergraduate and graduate university, my objective ambitions were far more contained. At most a scrap of textile might occasionally have made it onto the radar. Other than that it was a matter simply of enjoying life without the trappings. Youth with its inherent bounty is considerably more visceral than the later years when deprivation overtakes us. I suspect there is also some psychological connection between the perfection of, say, a diamond and one’s lost youth. Nice things are a way of recovering what it is gone from within, a veneer to accommodate the ensuing damage of time. But even later in life it dawns upon one that the cost of keeping the stuff is perhaps not worth the effort, whether it is insurance, surveillance, taxes or costly maintenance. Eventually getting rid of stuff is either desirable or incontrovertible. In the transition stage one cannot help but be torn between the competing attractions of acquisition and disposition. However, as in all things, nature finally teaches us the way. In the end we succumb to what our very fabric tells us is right to do, even if presently one is fickle.

To fill the remaining void of the day I took my bicycle to a car wash. Employing one of those hand-held jet sprays, and by applying the incredible force of the water, I succeeded in removing all but the paint from the contraption. All this for only four dollars! So pumped was I by my unanticipated triumph that I happily cycled to the far end of Country Street before returning home.

This evening we dined with my parents at an inexpensive though passable Chinese restaurant in Stittsville. This was my token acknowledgment of “Mother’s Day”. We chose to dine on Saturday evening to avoid the crowds and hysteria of Sunday. The place suited my elderly and declining father because we could drop him at the door and there were no stairs for him to climb. I am convinced that my parents enjoyed the two-hour outing because they both complained far less than usual, and they both ate far more than usual. Of course my father still managed to object to my driving (I was the chauffeur for the evening), stating that “some cars only have one speed”; and he replayed his now familiar recording about how my mother knows all there is to know about everything. While I find their perpetual bickering to be tedious it is clear that they will miss having the opportunity when one of them is gone. Their performance is almost vaudevillian. By way of conversation, my mother raised the subject of a history of sorts which my cousin is preparing about her mother, my father's sister. My cousin has asked my father to contribute a piece to the project but thus far he hasn't been able to come up with anything. He did however relate an incident during which his sister dropped a double-headed axe across her foot, leaving to this day a scar. We agreed with my father that not many people would know that. When we encouraged my father to put pen to paper he replied that he has great difficulty writing his own name. The use of a dictaphone machine was dismissed out of hand; he couldn't possibly use the controls. The subject thereafter expired.

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