On Sunday (Mom’s only day off), I tried to cajole Mom into organizing the guest bedroom closet, which houses her collection of cheapo pastel cotton clothing that she enjoys buying from one of Dad's medical patients out of their home store/garage. You can’t walk into the closet without getting irritated by the plastic bags housing giant, billowy comforters that take up most of the floor and tangle with your feet like leeches.
Mom grumbled about not wanting to clean, but followed me into the guest room anyway.
In addition to the usual jumble, there were several other bags crowding the floor. Mom brings five bags to and from work, and tosses them around randomly when she gets home.
I watched as she rummaged through everything, unearthing Tupperware, smashed newspaper clippings, various-SPF tinted moisturizer tubes, Sudoku fun time, crumb-filled magazines, piles of scratch paper cut into random sizes, bobby pins, medical billing papers, crunchy Japanese broad beans, hairbrushes, and library books featuring knitting tutorials, British writers and Taiwanese schoolteachers.
She paused when she reached a mysterious plastic bag.
“What’s this? Oh!”
It was salami and a jolly trio of Trader Joe's cheeses.
“How long has this been here?” I asked.
She couldn’t remember. “Four days?” she mused. She opened the salami and commenced a smörgåsbord.
For dinner, I cooked buckwheat noodles to pair with spinach and broth. Chupa found the noodles in the sink and began eating them out of the colander.
“Mmmm,” he said.
“Do you like them?”
“Mmmm, warm rubber bands,” he replied.
“Want to play a game?” Mom would ask.
The game turned out to be us pinching and pulling the skin on the tops of our hands in a perpetual dog pile of claw hands. She’d pull/pinch the skin on the top of my right hand with her right hand. While she held the pinch, I put my left hand over her right hand to pinch her skin and hold it while she put her left hand over my left hand and pinched hard. I’d take my right hand from the bottom, and put it over her left hand to pinch, and so on. This game never lasted long, as Mom, smiling, would speed up the process until we ended with a big collapsed hand pile.
This game was painful and not fun, but Mom enjoyed it. She probably had some nostalgic attachment to it.