Today I went to the box that I keep tucked under my covers which contains the few remaining mementos I have saved of my family. There are pictures and notes and even my mother's favorite lighter. It was strange that a lighter was what she clung to when she got the most scared and innocent. It wasn't a weapon, more like a teddy bear. It was black and white with a weird concentric circle patter and a label peeled off, still showing the white paper permanently adhered to the side. For whatever reason, seeing my mom with that lighter was always a relief to me, because at that point I knew she was more likely to hide in her room and ignore me and Drake than she was to go out in public screaming her head off. And so, when she died, I had taken the lighter from her bedside table and tucked it in my pocket, where I would fondle it whenever I wanted my mommy. I did that until I was sixteen and decided I would be just fine without my mother, but I still kept it nearby, just in case.

Among the various items that seemed to warm at my touch just thinking about the happiness they represented in my life, was the address book that my mother kept. It was one of her little obsessions, recording things in list format. Everything from recipes, to what supplies she had in her studio, to the names of the voices in her head, to phone numbers, addresses, family status, and age of everyone she knew well enough to ask for information. The book was red, spiral bound, and college rule (according to the cover.) In black ink, and in my mother's best handwriting, were the words, "Index of the World". I remember mom telling me what she meant by that, "Everyone in the world. As in, everyone in our world. These are all the people who really matter, the only people you can really see,  when you get to seeing things clear." And I thought that maybe my mom had considered Gramma Missy important enough to see.

All down the pages, in neat columns with pretty headings on top of each page, were names, phone numbers, street addresses, birth dates, and surviving family members, as was current in June of year 2001. Mom's handwriting was the neat, methodical block print in the tiny little lines she made when she was obsessing. Each entry was allotted three lines, and in the space on the right margin would be a little doodle that said something about the person. There were probably about two hundred entries in total (mostly because mom had decided for whatever reason to mention everyone, even if they were already mentioned previously under a spouse or parent's entry.) Many of those entries were incomplete in one way or another. Apparently she entered everyone she met and who gave her any part of the information she wanted. There was an entry for a David Tenant that only mentioned the birth date and the country he lived in. How did she possibly meet someone who lived in the UK, when mom had never left the country but once in her life? Who knows.

The entries were in chronological order of birth, which made some sense because she was never very good at the alphabet. She read just fine, but for some reason alphabetical order was always the most difficult way for her to think. Mom preferred numbers, and so being that I was her child, numbers were just a language I had to learn. She started the book with Dannilynn, who was the youngest person we knew: the daughter of a friend from high school who was born in the summer of '09. The last few pages were obituaries of people who had lived (or maybe not) and who had died. I recognized a few of the names Mom had introduced without bodies. I found Gramma near the back of the book; she was on the last page, in fact, that listed people who had not yet died, I suppose because my mother didn't have very many friends of her own mother's age, and because she only had one uncle she had ever known.

So I that is how I now have a phone number and street address for the last known residence of my gramma. The residence I had a dream about last night. I think these dreams are trying to tell me something, my subconscious knows something and it's trying to lead me there. I doubt the home phone is still operational, although there are some areas where the telephone companies just up and left the lines working just in case someone needed to call for help. There's little chance that the line would have survived this long without maintenance, but miracles do happen... There's no way she would still be alive, let alone still living in her own home. If she has survived, she'll be at a local shelter or a base. But little steps. I am trying to work up the courage to call her home and see if it's really going to be that easy. Stranger things have happened in this world so far, after all.

1 comment:

  1. Just finished all the posts so far ... splendid work! relly has me hooked and I want more!!

    Post soon! Please!!