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7/23/06

Dear Kim:

My mother is having a hard time with the move.

Yesterday, when we were waiting for a cab from the airport, some unsuspecting person—probably a tourist—inadvertently cut into the line. The cab organizer cussed him out like he had committed grand larceny.

We're not in Kansas any more, Dorothy, I said to my mother. She smiled wanly and leaned against me as we rode in the cab, flinching at the sounds of jackhammers and people shouting in the streets.

Ohmigod, she kept repeating. Ohmigod.

I suddenly flashed on what I like about the Midwest. We are not hicks or dullards, as so often depicted by Easterners. We are warm but polite. (Kim: Strange how we think of polite as not warm.) We wait our turn in line and do not assume that our lives or needs supersede anyone else's.

I wrested myself away from that geographic valentine as if to read my mother's mind.

This isn't loud, I said. It's vibrant. The city is alive.

She sighed and began to sweat profusely.

Why was she wearing a long sleeved sweater at the end of May? Where were her summer clothes?

Before we could get inside at my brother's, her diuretic suddenly kicked in from all the excitement and she had an accident.

She was almost too exhausted for me to help her bathe and change her clothes.

That worried me. My mother is fastidious. I decided to wait until tomorrow and see if this sudden change in behavior is temporary. Circumstantial.

Come talk to me, she said.

I went into the guest room to lay next to her, put my hand over hers and she fell into a pained open mouthed sleep.

Today, she walked slowly and unsteadily as we went to see her new home, happily, amazingly located just down the block and around the corner from my brother.

My brother, ever on a schedule, bounded through the apartment, calling out various changes and improvements.

Just a minute, my mother said, clinging to my arm as we stood in the foyer, a few feet from the doorway.

(Kim: My parents always fought us living our lives for them, or even helping them in anyway. Even to the end, my dad wanted to be left alone to his own devices. You are really able to share this difficult time with and for your parents.)

I'm overwhelmed, she said to me. Am just overwhelmed.

I know it is not the old place, I said.

And I am thinking, it is not the old place on the old block in the old city with your old friends near my sister.

But I am saying, I can understand that you feel overwhelmed. I feel a bit overwhelmed, too.

Look how beautiful the floors are. Ian did a great job sanding them. Imagine how nice it will be when we put in your own things. The paintings from Haiti and your old leather couch.

(Kim: Did Ian really sand the floors. It doesn't sound like something a Jewish scientist would do?)

Then she and my brother and I went to the lower east side to look at light fixtures.

Later,

Joan

Thursday, June 1, 2006