Contents of my kitchen floor: one sock, a ponytail holder mistaken by a cat as a toy, the remains of the 10-minute taco dinner I’ve substituted as cat food because I haven’t been to the grocery store, and glitter confetti from my daughter’s 13th birthday party three months ago when all four of her grandparents came dressed in the party’s advised “bling theme”.
Above: a painting of a cardinal my former mother-in-law gave me, askew on the wall above the coffee maker, the pot with the remnants of the morning’s brew made by Dad, way too early. He and Mom are in town again from Alabama where they retired but haven’t seemed to have fully moved, the two of them with many loose ends here in this town where they raised my brother and me and where I still live.
I’m sitting on the kitchen island, pajama-clad and tired but wired from an evening networking event. I would go to bed but the music playing on my kitchen radio (it’s not really a radio; it’s a device that plays music from my phone) is stuff my dad likes and thus I am thinking about my parents. They are staying in my house but are out late because they have theater tickets to Chicago.
I think they’ll be coming back to Nashville for the rest of the TPAC season, probably staying in my guest room, showering in my daughter’s bathroom. So we’ll have three generations here on occasion, which is unexpected and sometimes awkward but fine. Dad always fixes the things he breaks after trying to fix them in the first place. Mom forgives me for being easily impatient and short-fused at this odd family arrangement, which is more than we can sometimes say for her own mother, who is elderly, back in Alabama, in need of constant attention and is more impatient and short-fused than I am.
In my driveway is a trailer with a tall ladder they brought for Dad to fix a light fixture no one else can reach. They hauled it all the way from six hours south after they took my grandmother to a doctor’s appointment that didn’t start until 4:30 in the afternoon. They arrived at midnight, slept four hours in my aforementioned guest room, woke up, made the coffee, went to meetings and dental appointments here in the city they don’t seem quite to have moved away from, and then to the theater. They’ll be home again – to my home again – in another three hours, at which time I’ll probably be asleep. Then, tomorrow, they’ll fix that light and probably pick up the sock and buy cat food and straighten the askew bird painting and drive six hours back south to be with my cranky grandmother.
They’re too old for this, I’d think, but clearly I’m wrong. Brat that I am, lucky kid I am, horrible cat owner I am, proud daughter I am.