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An Errand for My Mother
By Nancy Jones


(Page 2 of 4)

So, one very long, hot summer in 1976, we set about to first sell and then empty her handsome three-bedroom cottage. I must have driven the five-hour trip from Worcester to Brooklyn Heights a dozen times that summer—always alone, but with the car loaded with her things. Actually, when I looked around my apartment, I realized most of “her things” were favorites of mine that I couldn't bear to part with: my father's mahogany three-foot-high liquor cabinet (a gift from his employees); Revere-Ware pots and pans; large decorative serving dishes; small end tables; books (lots of books); linens and even a meager four-piece Wedgwood collection—presents my sister and I had given her over the years. When my mother finally moved into the apartment and looked around, she couldn't get over the "junk" I had brought back. She was definitely not a collector.

During a period of transition to our new living arrangements, we both had terribly conflicted feelings. My mother wondered if she'd made a big mistake trading in her large comfortable house for a small room in my apartment. I concurred that it might have been a big mistake since we were both in danger of losing our independence. But once we'd taken the step, there was no going back. I had to make our new family composition work. My husband, whom my friends considered a saint for even allowing the move in the first place, seemed not the least bit concerned, as though this sort of thing happened to every family. I attributed his compliance and sanguinity to the fact that he was a funny foreigner, an eccentric Englishman who liked little old ladies and probably had seen his own relatives do something similar. My son, Evan, at age 10, was at first delighted to have his grandma move in; but in later years as a teenager, he discovered some drawbacks: his beloved grandma was more like an older sister—she read all his mail from his girlfriends and this left its mark. To this day, he does not write letters to anyone.

In the years that followed, often in frustration to a particular situation, I wrote in notebooks. One entry was a list of countries I was unable to visit because of my mother's immediate medical problems. In the past, I was able to travel with my husband to wonderful new places; but by 1987, my mother's ill health prevented me from accompanying him on these enjoyable business trips. I did not go to Germany nor Wales nor Australia nor New Zealand. Even shorter trips to Hawaii or Puerto Rico were out of the question. When my husband was in Wales, I was home tending my mother's broken pelvis.

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