Tuesday, March 23, 2010

A Very Rigid Journey

This is how long ago it was.  And far away.

We lived at The Landings apartments.  Lakefront.  Beautiful.  In the summers one could make their way out on the tiniest of canoes, or floaty boats and see the Lexington Mall sign from the middle (of the lake).

One time:  We tossed pennies into that lake at sunset and skinny-dipped, like lovely precious liveforever boys, diving.  Come up for air.  So dark, isn't it?  Look how beautiful we are in the the dark.

Another time:  I was working at Liquor Barn (gotta make the head cheese) and Tom and friends were playing volleyball on the sand court and his ferocious play led to his losing our 'wedding band' (even, then, we called it that- You can't stop us from loving).  They searched.  For hours.  Like a needle... and found it before I even made my way home.

This:  The first time I ever, really, came out.  We hosted a Christmas Party at our Landings apartment for my elementary school.  The principal, seeing that we had two bedrooms, said, to me and Tom:  "How nice to have a place for guests."

Again:  The upstairs neighbor, a UK professor and his, shall we say, other woman.  He was living with cancer, and she was taking care of him.  Away from, I'm sure, his "legal" family, but with his beloved, to the end.  We called the ambulance when he was called home.

Then:  Midnight Madness.  Not UK Wildcat oriented.  McAlpin's Sale.  Lexington Mall.  Mom and her best friend Ginny are shopping and there is a call.  Over the loudspeaker.  Goes to the desk.  Her husband is dead.  Madness. My brother and he were playing tennis.  Things happen.

And:  We're in the lovely lakeside apartment.  Watching an innocent slasher film, as I recall. March 23, 1988.  When I get the call.  The news.  Tom takes me over to the Mall.  Mom is sitting there.  Not in shock, at all, is how I choose to remember it.  Strong.  Strong as she ever was. 

Two decades plus later:  This boy (me) is now a man.  That boy (my brother) more than I can ever know. The sister in the story (Vicki, named after her then dead, and forever living dad).  And most of all:

Mom.  Janice Rose West Miller.  She lived with this memory as long as she could bear it.  And lives on to this very day at Kenwood House Nursing Facility in Richmond, Kentucky.  She can still sing, and dance (and does).

"You are such a sweet husband", she told him when he brought her gifts.
"I just want to be good to you."
"I know," she said," and you are."
"But there are so many things I can't give you."
"But there are so many things you can".

-Everything is Illuminated,  Jonathan Safran Foer

1 comment: