03 May 2012

And When It Will Be

There's a piece of fabric I found in a closet in Mom's apartment; a piece of fabric with a message, pointed in string, made by a needle, with a message of peace; this piece of fabric.

It's been under glass for decades, in a frame, and while once on a wall was then in a closet (that is until today) I brought it forth from the darkness of obscurity into the light of day to remove its protective glass, peel away its butcher paper backing from the framed enclosure housing it, and set into motion its eventual new resting place:  the inside lining of my tallis bag, this place of quiet repose for another fabric, my prayer shawl, that stand-in, ritualized symbol for that other fabric, the Fabric of Fabrics--the very heavens under which we live.

As I readied and steadied Mom's wheelchair today, peeling away a layer of fabricated plastic, the wheelchair's protective wheel seals, I thought of the ways in which fabrics connote newness but for a moment; and that newness is clean, nostalgic in its pristine and perfect untouchability.  Like new life.

But as I knelt on the sidewalk, my denimed leg against the cast concrete section of sidewalk, conscious of the wearing away of fabric, flesh, bone, and even, slowly, cement, this crumpled ball of cellophane lost its intended function and became nothing more than the fleeting detritus of show-room protection.  Once the wheel was rolling, the protection had no function, except giving way to a new form.

The perfunctory nature of the protective plastic.  Once you even notice it, it's usefulness is, well, used up.

Up and off we rolled.  Down Capitol Drive:  past robust tulips in a warm May wind; faded forsythia's gasping their last breaths of spring; lilacs lumbering, enormously, as evening fell.  Lake Michigan called like a confident woman:  sure of rhythm, steady on the surface, deep as soul.

My mother:  her cancer an inconvenience, a nuisance, a pain in the ass.  But the red-winged black bird; the flighty sparrows; the tall lake grasses; those shifting shades of lake water and light:  this was the symphony we had come to enjoy.

Runners climbed the stairs up and down from the beach in exhaustion and exulted in the triumph and nausea of their ascent.  Small children, wet and weathered from the insistent sands and water of relentless flow, gathered rocks in the bottoms of their shirts and pronounced proudly to my mother, whom they had never met until just this moment:  "We will paint them blue and purple and indigo and green!"  

"A blue, purple, indigo and green garden," my mother said.  "How wonderful."  And as the children drifted past, my mother brought a small lilac branch to her nose, breathed deeply of its heavenly aroma, waved off a swarm of gnats, and prepared for the mile and a half ride home.

We checked the terra cotta detail of a Wright house en route; marveled at a local collection of spearmint, hyssop and basil; and complimented a neighbor on his garden.  "I really like your tulips," Mom said.  "Thank you," said he.  The exchange between these two stranger-neighbors as filled with integrity as it was of exemplary brevity.

The sky is now dark, blue-black.  The clouds play with a half-moon and cars roll by, ambling past the part of the night that stands still, while the other part continues to move on.

The apartment is quiet.  The mother is at rest. The cancer keeps moving on.  But tomorrow when she arises she moves on, too.  And there's no telling, right now, who will win.  Or what winning looks like.  And when it will be.


1 comment:

Mary Fletcher said...

Prayers continue....,
Loved this blog entry by Andy