Saturday morning! I can’t explain it, but even after retirement, Saturday morning still elevates me! This is particularly so when as today the sun shone and there was not a cloud in the bright blue sky! Rather like listening to the atmospheric music of Erik Satie’s “Gymnopédies”. I did however suffer a modest dampening upon briefly recalling the disagreement I had had with my elderly mother last evening. But I was, at least upon awakening this morning, satisfied that my intransigence about returning her vacuum cleaner had triumphed and my general approach to the new day was one of refreshment not hesitation or regret. This, I was about to discover, was to be a short-lived buoyancy. But for the time being, ignorant as I was of my overhanging destiny, I prosecuted the morning ablutions without reserve and prepared myself for what I then anticipated to be a perfectly splendid Saturday. As I dressed I amused myself to contrive to purchase new white socks and to discard the old ones. White socks are like toothbrushes, common, hardly a luxury and certainly not something one should feel the necessity to keep forever. Long ago I discovered the unusually gratifying result of capitalizing upon such petty indulgences. Rejuvenation requires far less exertion than one might imagine; the simplest modification can afford incalculable fodder!
About that vacuum cleaner, I should explain that the conundrum which surrounded its return to my mother was that she didn’t use it (even though of course in her customary stubborn manner she protested against all reason that she did). More importantly, if she were to use it, she risked falling as her mobility is greatly reduced and at 90 years of age she doesn’t need a broken hip to enhance her life. Nonetheless in spite of the soundness of my argument, my mother harkened to the days when she still owned her own home and before she was forced (by me and my sister as she no doubt asserts) to abandon it and all the associated rituals which she affirmed included her erstwhile passion for vacuuming. I have learned by seasoned experience to mistrust most of my mother’s expressions of zeal which include dreamy ambitions like going to the bank to update her savings account passbook (in spite of my provision of on-line print-outs), buying more clothing (she doesn’t wear a tenth of what she already owns), shopping for make-up (she has enough to parge the foundation of a castle) or getting a new car (her licence was lifted years ago). You might well surmise there is more than a degree of wistful reminiscence at play in the circumstances. When I expropriated the vacuum cleaner from her I confirmed from an examination of it that it hadn’t been used. The dust drum was empty; certain of the levers were detached; there was no evidence of employment. This did not alarm me because my mother is regularly visited in her apartment by cleaning staff. As a result when my mother and I argued about the matter in a protracted telephone conversation last evening, I felt confident in resisting her emotional plea for the return of the vacuum cleaner in light of the incontrovertible facts. I realize now that I should have known her capitulation was ephemeral and that her calculation would be relentless.
In any event when the dawn in its frosty mantle broke upon us this morning, I foresaw only a pleasant day. We began by directing ourselves to the Mississippi Golf Club for breakfast. Yesterday we had confirmed that the dining room at the Club had opened for the season so we felt exhilaration in initiating our routine. I joined the Mississippi Golf Club as a social member almost exactly forty years ago. We have regularly attended on Saturday and Sunday mornings to enjoy what I unhesitatingly describe as a breakfast nonpareil! No matter what you order, it arrives hot, abundant and delicious. And the staff is exceptional! The adventure is magnified by the exceedingly comfortable surroundings and the thoroughly delightful location adjacent the River overlooking the manicured greens and verdant fairways. This morning’s reunion was no exception!
After leaving the Golf Club sated and in good humour we returned to Almonte to search for a couple of items at Levi Home Hardware and Dandelion Foods. Then we pressed onto Ottawa to conduct what has become a ritual daily visit to my elderly mother at her retirement residence. But first we interrupted our objective by detouring to purchase new white socks. While at the mall I bought some superb silk white roses for my mother and, as a concession to her grievance, a small hand-held vacuum.
When we arrived at my mother’s apartment, apart from encountering the staff assistant who was delivering a tray of food, my mother instantly and shockingly revived her demand for return of her vacuum. I was flabbergasted! There was entirely no remission of her foray; she picked up exactly where she had left off and in no uncertain terms! In an instant my happy Saturday morning and the brilliantly sunny day dissolved! The silk flowers and hand-held vacuum were utterly redundant. I regret to say that in answering my mother’s untempered confrontation I suffered an undeniable lapse into the vernacular. The competition for direct language was too great to admit to the niceties of diplomatic prattle. I shall spare my reader the indignity of an account of the full communication which only intensified and lapsed further into mean-spirited and desultory comments. In the end I relinquished any possibility of persuasion and proclaimed in a huff that I would return to Almonte, collect the much sanctioned vacuum cleaner and bring it back to its rightful (and decidedly indignant) owner!
I needn’t add that the ride home was marked by brooding and less than cultivated expletives! It is the privilege and gratification of aging to indulge in the commonality of the groundlings! I dismissed the significance of the debate by reasoning that I had done all I could to opt for the correct and appropriate course of action. But on balance it was proving to be a Pyrrhic victory. Undeniably a strain of dissatisfaction within the parent-child relationship was manifest and that deep undercurrent had succeeded to revive a history of suppressed emotions which apparently I had at last vented (though for what purpose and to what advantage I seriously questioned).
Oddly on the return voyage to my mother’s retirement residence, I mechanically diverted to Tim Horton’s to collect an iced Mocha coffee for my mother. She no longer has much of an appetite for food of any description but she is voracious about iced Mocha coffee.
Perhaps this deference to habit overcame the former hostility surrounding the vacuum controversy. More likely I was relieved to have reversed the cause of the acrimony. I mean, it hardly amounts to justification for a sustained battle! Thus when we reappeared at my mother’s apartment the air was no longer blue and the perfunctory replacement of the vacuum in its former location attracted no attention whatever. Instead the conversation focussed upon the silk flowers, the weather, plans for dinner and one’s heath. Effortlessly our family congress was restored to C-Major. We talked of my sister’s anticipated return from Florida and upcoming proposals for the celebration of Mother’s Day. It no doubt helped to erase the grittiness of our previous dust-up that during our now highly sociable and unperturbed yammering I received two welcome emails addressing as many outstanding concerns which frankly had been niggling in the background throughout the day. How miraculously things do at times resolve themselves!
If there had been anything jarring about the day, it had evaporated. We departed from my mother in peace. What remained was a brief dalliance at an Asian restaurant for spring rolls, Chow Mein and hot-and-sour soup. Thus fortified we headed west into the setting sun. I resolved to profit metaphorically from the sweetened return by traveling along the Appleton Side Road to complete the circle of the day’s robust activities. We were treated to glistening sunshine on pools of water in the fields and among the clusters of trees alongside the road. The grass was turning greener almost by the minute. My sister called to confirm that her plane had landed and to book a reconnoitre over the digestion of oysters at lunch tomorrow. I was so completely motivated by the unanticipated turn of events and the resulting pervasive beneficence that I deigned to tackle the sorting of one of my most muddled files which until then I had successfully ignored for years. The sense of catharsis was unimpeachable! And tomorrow at lunch I would wear my new white socks!