dimanche, mai 10, 2009

Mothers and aunts

When my grandmother got old, and we didn't feel great about the crime in her neighborhood, my folks and my aunt decided she had to move. My aunt and mother must have worked something out, because we were fortunate enough to have grandma move in around the corner. And then, fairly soon after, my Aunt Jennie left her Flatbush apartment to move to Lincoln Place.

We'd go visit them and drink weak tea, eat cookies, and tease my grandmother, or look at my great aunt's afghans or needlepoint. Grandma was always getting us to sign a petition or take some pamphets on a sane nuclear policy -- her home was a haven in which all of us wildly diverse idionsyncratic nieces and sisters and cousins sat peacably at dinner, trading stories, teasing each other, linked in love. Sibling rivalry dared not speak its name.

If my mother had lived, my sister and I probably would have battled to get her to move in with us. So it is with the women and the few elderly men on that side of our family.

Isn't she lucky to have children who both wish that she'd live with them? said a friend of another, older friend we both think is fabulous. But I think it's more than luck that both her kids would love to have Peg. It is a mystery -- one created long ago, in a mother's compassion, humor, and ability to love through rage and chill and thunder into reconciliation. She is the tie that binds these children.

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