Once inside the foyer, Aunt Dorothy made a big show of taking off her shoes (which was kinda sweet actually) even though Miss Cathy and I both tried to insist that she didn’t have to participate in the custom that we adopted from my sister-in-law’s Japanese traditions.
“No”, she insisted, demonstrating flexibility worthy of someone decades younger than her eighty-four years, smiling all the while as she bent down to unlace her shoes.
“I know what to do”.
It seemed to me that Dorothy wanted mom to know that she’d been listening during all their conversations since Miss Cathy became ill.
And that she remembered all the stories she’d heard about all the redecorating I’d done to the condo and the wall to wall carpet Miss Cathy was so proud of and how determined she was to keep it looking as new as possible for as long as possible (believe me, if she could have wrapped it all in plastic as was the trend in so many lower middle class households in the 60’s I’m sure she would have).
They walked arm in arm into the living room, comfortable to be in each other’s company again.
For the briefest moment I could see the girls they once were together, while Aunt Dorothy pointed out the various changes that had been made since she’d last been ‘up north’ as if she were the guide and Miss Cathy the visitor.
With everyone settled around the two matriarchs, mom in her usual spot at one end of the sofa nearest the windows and Dorothy across from her, to her left in a wingback chair, my cousin, Dennis in the wingback next to his mother and Darlene, his wife next to mine, I went off to gather drinks and start the meal.
I decided on a red, green and yellow pepper omelet stuffed with cheese, bacon on the side and toast, nothing fancy, just colorful.
I forgot to garnish the plate with one or two strawberries (always thinking that a ‘pretty’ presentation goes a long way in balancing ‘so-so’ cooking) because I was too busy trying to get the plates out as soon as I could to feed our guests, still not knowing how much time they had to spend with us before getting back on the road.
Laughter from the living room where Miss Cathy held court drifted into the kitchen and mixed with the sounds of the eggs cooking and bacon sizzling.
She’s never been at a loss for words and after years of hearing most of what she has to say, I smiled to myself as I folded and flipped an omelet, happy knowing that she had a new audience that she could entertain.