Friday, July 15, 2011

What We Are Doing Here

When I tell people about my trip to San Diego, I put a good face on. My grandparents are fine, I say, we're just getting things settled. I forget the reason I asked if I should come home this summer. I wasn't sure that if I waited until Christmas that they would both be here. I said, I wasn't coming home because they were unwell, I was coming home to pack and carry.

They're not well.

My grandfather is frail. His cheeks are unshaven and his face is strangely still, the muscles slack. And there is something I can't recognize in his eyes.

We are not well.

My father tells us how, once when he left the house on Rolando Knolls, the house he grew up in and now is a caretaker for, the toilet did not stop running, and it kept running for two weeks until he came back and discovered it. His hands were clenched in front of him and he didn't look up.

I am not well.

We are sorting through the house to separate items with sentimental value, items that we would be interested in taking back to our respective homes, and items for the estate sale people to handle. I am going into acquisition mode. Look, stuff! I can have stuff! It's pretty cool stuff. There's a shiny gold purse, a silk brocade tablecloth, quilting books, a blue gingham apron. And then I feel guilty for coveting stuff, because it shouldn't be about getting stuff. This is the dismantling of my grandparent's lives. I want to be generous. I want to be helpful. I don't want this pile of stuff with a pink sticky note that says Angela. I don't want to want it. And I hate that I do.

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