Saturday, January 16, 2016

January Gray

A chill, foggy morning here. Forget April, Mr. Eliot; January, when it reinforces one's prevailing state of mind, can be the cruelest month. And still February to get through.

We're sad, I'm sad to say, here. From Cairo yesterday came the word, not unexpected but no less hard, that Mr. Muscato's mother has died. She has been ill for years, and worse, far from happy, immobilized by a stroke and plagued by illnesses and large and small, immured in the house of a dutiful but sometimes grudging son and his wholly unsympathetic wife. I hope that now she's on her Trip to Bountiful.

She slept and didn't wake, a good way to go I've always thought, and once the fresh pain dulls, perhaps the Mister will take some comfort in the calm and painlessness with which she slipped away. She had a great heart and a joyous spirit, and my husband, her youngest son, was the jewel in her maternal crown, beloved and cossetted and, at last and infinitely unwillingly, allowed to escape the nest and go so far away. He was with her last fall, which is a blessing.

Of some things, of course, in Egypt, one doesn't speak. I was officially just The Foreigner, an enigmatic friend who turned up now and then, but I think she had me figured out. She was, like many Egyptian ladies of her kind and age, a great reader of coffee grounds, a diviner of secrets; she read mine once, and gave me such a look. Still, she pressed my hands as we parted, blessed me on our way. And she was such a cook, and when she wanted to be a wicked old thing, with a laugh as broad and rolling as the Nile.

Meanwhile, in Florida, my own father's life is drifting toward its close. We've not, to put it mildly, been close in many years, but I hope his going is equally merciful. My Dear Sister is in attendance, reporting dutifully, but for me the great sadness when he goes will be how little sadness I feel. I know that sounds hard and unkind, but it's simply the way it is, something one learns to, if not accept, at least accommodate. There are people in the world with whom one simply has no resonance, no way to connect; more rarely, those people turn out to be someone who should be among your very closest. The human heart is a complicated, enigmatic thing, and I have as many problems with its metaphorical as with its actual iteration.

So all this week's sorrows - the vanishing of well-liked stars, the horror-show of our benighted politics, the rumblings of worse to come in far corners of the earth - all serve to bring us down. I think I'll roast a chicken, comfort my poor darling, and brood a while.


  1. So sorry to read this and know what he is going through, magnified by the miles of distance. Yet is something that we all go through. In my case, with my father - it was unexpected, and I grieved long and hard. And with my mother it was expected, and I kept wondering what was keeping death from ending her suffering. Yet I was with her when she died and it was an honor. She was there when I was born, so I should be there when she departed. The worst part is that you can never call them again. You can never hear their voices. So I send wishes of good grieving to you both. Getting it out helps.

  2. I'm so sorry for the Mister. And completely in tune with you about my paternal relations. I sometimes think of him and me and wonder "How *did* this all happen?"

  3. What a blessed way to depart - my condolences to you both, and despite your (sadly), all-too-common relationship with Pere Muscato, I wish the same for him when the time does come.

  4. "The human heart is a complicated, enigmatic thing", indeed. I wish you and the Mister every good wish at this moment. Jx

  5. I send him, and you, hugs.

  6. So sorry for poor Mr. Muscato and for you. I'm sure he will be leaning on you in the days and weeks ahead. Mother Muscato sounds like she was a corker (as my mother would say).

    I'm fortunate to have both parents still about - though their departure date for Fabulon can't be all that far off. Mom in particular has days where she seems quite ready to pack her trunks and head for that distant land. I dote a bit and call daily, and we have finished most all our business and settled past hurts. We are on very, very good ground. And I know I will be crushed when those expected (but never quite, never fully) days arrive.

    Warm hugs and comforting thoughts to both the Mister and to you.