Thursday, August 3, 2017


September, 1982 
Report by Tim Malley
     Collected my grandmother at Ocean Manor, hoisted her into my truck.  After our brunch I decided to make the most of what was left of the afternoon by taking Mimi on an auto tour.  Snaking down Old Bucket Road, I could feel her monologue washing over me like a soft rain, the impressions coming too fast to retain. (Christ, I wish I had a tape recorder sometimes.)
     Tune in on the status of my passenger’s current topic . . .
      “I pray to God all the time, Timmy, I pray that you’ll be all right and I get along with him all right (God?) and he usually does what I tell him (for me?) and I’m sure that’s why you and Ted get home safely from your fishing trips.”
     “Well, we’re careful, too, Mimi.”
     I drove over to my land in Norwell and backed alongside the boathouse where she could look through to the river on the other side.  When I opened the door, Ginger leapt out of the back of the truck, scrambled into the front, scrunched past my legs, and went snorfuling up to Mimi.  Of course the old lady thought that was the greatest.  Getting in the mood, I leaned against the hood and smoked a few hits.
     Mimi and I left Ginger in the boathouse and walked at a stately pace toward the cabin while I explained which part of the property I owned and which I rented.  She asked me if the original owner had left me the little house in his will.
     Now I’ve pulled the truck over by the bog.  With the Boston Symphony Orchestra playing Deus Maxima Regina, Mimi has dozed off, looking for all the world like a wound-down toy.  I have another hit while she slumbers, then head for the golf club where Ted, Bob, and Tom will be finishing eighteen holes.  They were on the fifteenth, so we waved from the truck and parked outside the club.  I went into the bar and got a beer for me and a coke for her, which she slurped up noisily.  I was thinking how much she looked like a small child (full circle we go) and that in the same way this tour had been pleasantly different for me, seeing it through her eyes.
     But then she had to go to the bathroom, and unlike a small child she is too decrepit to pick up and carry to the loo, so we drove to Dad’s and settled in for awhile.  Maureen came over with the grand-kids to say hello, left, and then Ted returned from the golf club and brought the kids over for another visit.
     Dad came home, stayed to talk for five minutes, then departed to hit some golf balls, leaving me unsure whether to be angry with him for deserting so quickly (he could have talked to me, for Christ’s sake).  Finally at 5:00, I took Mimi back to the nursing home.
     A moment ago Mum called to tell me I was an angel.  I said I thought it was easy for me to be a hero once every four months.  I felt sorry for her with the much more frequent visits and having to deal with the problems rather than a Sunday drive like mine.  I felt sort of like the divorced father who comes and takes the kids on weekends, showering them with gifts, then leaves them behind with Mom the Disciplinarian to hear what fun they had with Daddy.  Mum pooh-poohed all that, said I was wonderful and she loved me and we said goodbye.
     All I can say is, how could I have a better day than to have lunch at PJ’s, get high, go for a drive with a child, visit my land, point out the lightning-blasted tree by the cabin (scrunching down to her level, I realized she couldn’t see the tree, and only the roof of the cabin, but she didn’t mind).  I drop Mimi off and continue my outing alone while contemplating life and families and the beauty of nature, then come home to have my mother tell me I’m an angel.

Fall, 1983
     Mimi’s savings are almost gone, but she’s convinced she’ll win the lottery any day now. When she does, she intends to move into a nice little place of her own. She tells me life in a nursing home isn’t as good as we think.
     She’s probably right.
Spring, 2011
     Now that I'm 89, I know Mimi was right. There's an attractive facility in Hingham I drive to when friends are recovering from a fall or an illness.  Like New York, it's a nice place to visit, but . . .

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