Solo Sock, Empty Chair
“Does this sock belong to you?” I ask my daughter.
I don’t ask why it is lying lonely on the railing or where its’ mate is.
Personally, I have a favorite sock that is waiting for its mate to turn up. If you look at it closely, rub your fingers over the thin weave of the heel, you might think it isn’t worth it.
I put it back in the drawer anyway.
Two weeks ago I found unfamiliar underwear in that drawer. One pair would be weird, but three?
I know not to ask my husband.
After 25 years I can anticipate Jake’s response: “If I am going to have an affair, anyone who bought that particular underwear would not qualify as a candidate.”
Even in my head, he keeps me laughing.
And as he points out daily, he doesn’t even need to talk anymore because I have pre-determined his responses.
I hold up the cream coloured cotton underwear and shrug my shoulders.
My size, stretchy.
My parents hit puberty during the war.
When I was growing up a dripping tap, a light left on caused more trauma than I care to remember.
I pick through a series of clear plastic bags left on the kitchen counter and decide which ones are worth washing. Inspection: is the ziplock is intact, is there evidence of old cilantro ?
With the milk jug in my hand I am headed to the fridge I step over a sticky dark stain drip trail on our wood kitchen floor. It has been there for over a week.
I wish someone would clean that up.
I am just back from a funeral.
Today I spoke to two women, both of whom in the last months lost their husbands.
As I approach them my body tenses with more empathy than I want to experience.
They both acknowledge, this is really hard.
And they don’t care about my empathy.
Both women were married for 55 plus years. Both of them were mothers.
Through some exceptionally difficult as well as some unremarkable deacades they will have asked: Is this your sock?
And I don’t know for sure, but I am guessing: they would bend over to wipe up the floor stain and put the milk in the fridge.
At the funeral I saw a friend who I lived with during my twenties. He is still trim, handsome, lightly greying hair. Maybe 50.
And then from across the room I watched him sitting cross legged as he pulled out some reading glasses to read the programme.
Like an old man.
I did a sharp inhale.
A half hour later, standing in the aisle of a middle-eastern food store I held a jar of Korma sauce and took a photo of the ingredients.
This is a little trick shown to me by an older friend.
Why do they print this with such a small font?
I tell my daughter how weird I find growing older. You are used to being one way; Young.
Of course we cling to what is familiar.
At the funeral the chair beside me was empty and beside that an elderly gentleman. Dark suit, he held his cane, brittle nails, his hand flaky with dry skin, an old band-aid.
There is no guarantee that I will outlive him, that I will drive home unscathed.
Still, a funeral must be different when you went to a different funeral last week, and you are seeing your skeleton protrude more prominently.
When the skin of your lower eyelid no longer hugs the eyeball.
At that time in life, there chance that the only sock lying on the bannister is your own, well-worn and un-mysterious.
I’m hoping that won’t etch painfully at my heart as I expect.
But then again, perhaps dementia might have some adaptive qualities.
Whose sock is this?