I went to Nana’s house yesterday. She’s slowly falling into the abyss of Dementia’s open mouth, to the point where we’re going to discuss medication with her doctor next time we go. So yesterday I go over there, to drop off some jam (I made it myself!) and her hat that Boogermonkey had borrowed and some juice. “I have something to show you, a collector’s item,” she said on the phone.
I get there and she’s sitting on her couch, holding a pair of white casual slacks folded on her lap.
“Look at these,” she said as she held them out to me. “Do you see this symbol here on the tag?”
I looked. My glasses are broken – Gurglebutt snapped the arm off two weeks ago and I’m waiting on the replacement – and I saw a red blob.
“That’s the logo of the New York Garment Worker’s Union,” she explained. That means these are very old. They busted up that union a long time ago, sent manufacture elsewhere. But these, these are mostly polyester, more polyester than cotton. They used to do that, to make them dry faster – that’s what they said – but now they do it the other way. I was going to wear them to church today, but the elastic is shot, I don’t know what’s the matter with it.”
“Well, elastic wears out over time. It happens.”
“Well, these can be fixed. It would be worth it. You know, I bought these for a dollar when you were one,” she held up her right index finger by way of illustration. “And you’re 27, going to be 28 in August, so that makes these 26 years old.”
“No, Nana. I’m 26 now. 27 next month.”
“Oh. Only 26 now? Jumping the gun, I guess. Anyway, I bought these at a thrift store in Tahoe. Not the year you were born, but the second year, when I came to visit. Momma was looking at something for the house, I don’t know what, but you were one because she had you in the carrier, you know, on her chest. So I found these pants and I knew they were a good deal because of that Garment Worker’s Union mark.”
I kept nodding, eating the cherries she said I could take home. They’re storebought, slighly underripe, but good anyway.
“You know, they have these things on Antiques Roadshow you know, and you wonder where they keep all this stuff.”
“I don’t think a pair of pants are worth much, Nana.”
“No, not for that, but you know if they make a documentary about the unions, the history of the unions, you could pull these out to show them. No one keeps anything anymore, and it makes them rare. I thought you would appreciate them for that.” She looked downcast, fingering the edge of the folded fabric.
I couldn’t take any more. The bag of cherries was empty. The kids were at home with Cousin Awesome and my heart was shattering. I took my leave, reminding her if she needed a ride to church and the deacons couldn’t do it, all she had to do was ask.
I’ve been so tired lately that I didn’t even have the energy to cry.