Friday, January 01, 2010
A scent of laundry. Part 2.
See Part 1 here.
She was there for a little party business I started to supplement my low female wages in Cork back in the day, when she invited all her well to do friends to her house so I could sell them a record amount of Tupperware.
She was there for my wedding, making all the bridesmaids’ dresses including fittings and arranging for shoe dyeing and matching hair bands.
She was there when my baby was born, making ridiculously fancy and gorgeous velvet dresses with lacy collars in every colour imaginable.
She was there to hold my precious mother, her sister, as she went through horrific chemo treatments and multiple amputations.
She was there but not so much when I would visit her after my mother’s death.
She was very much less there at my sister’s wedding. She kept disappearing to the ladies’ room and when she was at our table, she was oddly incoherent and inappropriately cynical.
I noticed a strange vinegary odour coming from her any time I would meet her when I went back home. I could not engage with her like in the old days. She had a remarkable lack of interest in my life and she forbade me to mention my mother’s name.
One night, when I asked my cousin, her daughter, what was going on, she silently gave me a tour of the house that had been the scene of so much laughter, community, and feasts fit for a queen.
Her dressing table, her pride and joy, laden with Waterford Crystal perfume bottles and handcut face cream jars, was the first stop. Each and every container was full of vodka.
The toilet tanks, the hot presses under the towels, the back recesses of the sideboard, even the opened yawning mouth of the piano: every nook and cranny held a bottle or a mickey full of alcohol.
Later, I sat down with her beautiful teenage granddaughter at a party in a cousin’s house and described her grandmother’s heyday to her. She looked at me blankly, almost disbelievingly.
“I’ve never known her to be anything but like she is now,’ she said softly.