far too much writing, far too many photos

runswithscissors


Thursday, May 27, 2004

[continued from previous entry]

During the 1980s, my parents began migrating to Florida for the colder months, spending more time there with each passing year. I, on the other hand, had headed west, returning to the northeast after a year and a half of trying out life in L.A.. staying in Half Moon for most of that winter while my parents cavorted among the palm trees, 900 miles to the south.

One Saturday morning in November, the doorbell rang. On answering, I found a 70ish man standing out on the stoop, a wan version of the Mr. Matthieson I remembered from childhood. Shorter, smaller, red hair fading to gray. I opened the storm door, we shook hands, saying hello, our greetings producing breath mist in the chilly air. When I asked if he'd like to step inside, he refused with a shy smile, saying he didn't have much time, though appearing pleased to have received the invite. He said that he and his wife wanted to get in touch with my parents but didn't have their Florida phone number. I wrote it down, handed it over. A moment of small talk, we shook hands again, he headed down the driveway, waving briefly as he moved off.

That was the last time I saw Mr. Matthiesson, though not the last time he impacted my life. If it had been, I'd have a fine closing to the story -- tidy, concise, slightly poignant. Not always the way life wraps affairs like this up.

Two or three years after my last encounter with Mr. M., things had improved between my parents and him to the point that they asked him to look after the house during their months away -- stopping by on a regular basis to make sure everything was all right, agreeing to be the person the security alarm outfit would call in case of problems.

And a day arrived when the Matthiesons' phone rang, someone from the security firm calling to say that one of the security sensors in the basement had gone off. A sensor indicating water accumulation.

Mr. M. pulled on a pair of rubber boots, took a walk down the road to the house. Where, on entering the basement, he discovered that the hose to the water pump had come apart, that water was indeed pouring in, beginning to accumulate. The solution: flick off the pump's wall-mounted power-switch -- the flow of water would cease, clean-up and damage would be minimal. Or at least more minimal than if the pump were left on.

Apparently, despite sporting rubber boots, despite a couple of nearby, in-plain-view, grabworthy lengths of wood tailor-made for switch-flipping, Mr. Matthieson could not overcome a fear of electrocution. And after some panicked blithering he fled, returning home to call my brother (located an hour and 40 minutes south of Half Moon). My brother made a hurried drive north to shut the pump off. By the time he got there, the basement contained a foot of water.

An unpleasant development in any house. Particularly unpleasant in this house, run by my mother, a professional pack-rat who'd passed many enjoyable decades hoarding cartons and bags filled with dreck. Much of which had ended up on low shelves and storage spaces in the basement.

My brother pumped out the water before returning to his life and 9-to-5 job. I had a more flexible situation, meaning the remaining clean-up became my responsibility.

What I found on arriving: damaged furniture, ruined carpeting, mold and fungus blossoming in corners and hidey-holes. Rusting tools. Many boxes of now-dead tchotchkes, knick-knacks, keepsakes, memorabilia. And many large garbage baggies stuffed with scraps of cloth -- remnants of maternal sewing projects (held onto because you never know when you'll need them), perfect for soaking up water and becoming heavy as cast iron.

As you might imagine, Mr. Matthiesson was summarily relieved of all duties connected to the house. I don't believe I ever heard my parents mention him again.

There are no sweeping judgments to be made from all this. I hardly knew this man, know little about the person he was. I know nothing, really, about his internal landscape, am not qualified to judge him. He was someone who passed through my earlier years, who struck me as a decent human being. Someone whose mid-life years brought a series of left-hand turns, beginning with a blow to the head and extending out from there -- the kind of unexpected shifts big novels are sometimes constructed around. Though in this case, to my knowledge, not building to a dramatic climax. (On the other hand, what do I know? Some of this life's most dramatic climaxes may be of the small, quiet variety.)

Just an individual who passed through this world, impacting the people around him in various ways, as we all do. With some moments of genuine drama and others of unintentional comedy. Same as the rest of us.

And worthy of mention. As we all are.

****************

Springtime in Madrid, along el Paseo de Recoletos:




Madrid, te quiero.

rws 8:26 AM [+]

Comments: Post a Comment

Links to this post:

<\$BlogItemBacklinkCreate\$>

BLATHERINGS

August 2001
September 2001
October 2001
November 2001
December 2001
January 2002
February 2002
March 2002
April 2002
May 2002
June 2002
July 2002
August 2002
September 2002
October 2002
November 2002
December 2002
January 2003
February 2003
March 2003
April 2003
May 2003
June 2003
July 2003
August 2003
September 2003
October 2003
November 2003
December 2003
January 2004
February 2004
March 2004
April 2004
May 2004
June 2004
July 2004
August 2004
September 2004
October 2004
November 2004
December 2004
January 2005
February 2005
March 2005
April 2005
May 2005
June 2005
July 2005
August 2005
September 2005
October 2005
November 2005
December 2005
January 2006
February 2006
March 2006
April 2006
May 2006
June 2006
July 2006
August 2006
September 2006
October 2006
November 2006
December 2006
January 2007
February 2007
March 2007
April 2007
May 2007
June 2007
July 2007
August 2007
September 2007
October 2007
November 2007
December 2007
January 2008
February 2008
March 2008
April 2008
May 2008
June 2008
July 2008
August 2008
September 2008
October 2008
November 2008
December 2008
January 2009
February 2009
March 2009
April 2009
June 2009
July 2009

.  .  .  .  .  .  .  .


MORE FOCUSED BLATHERINGS


Travels:
London '01
Pamplona
Italy '03
U.K. '03
Sevilla
Casablanca
Stoke-on-Trent
Barcelona
Québec/Ottawa
Boston/Lisbon/Madrid
Italy '04
Montréal
La Sierra

Events:
Madrid -- arrival
9/11
Emergency Room I
Holidays 2001
Holidays 2002
Holidays 2003
Holidays 2004
Holidays 2005
A neighbor's passing
Madrid -- March 11 bombings
  and aftermath
Emergency Room II
Israeli friend/Madrid Marathon
Madrid -- Royal Wedding
The DELE exam

GONE, a novel:
Chapter 1
Chapter 2
Chapter 3
Chapter 4
Chapter 5
Chapter 6
Chapter 7
Chapter 8
Chapter 9
Chapter 10

THE BASTARD CHILDREN OF
JOE ROCCO, a novella:
-- Part 1
-- Part 2
-- Part 3

BURBANK SHRUGGED,
a screenplay:
-- Part 1
-- Part 2
-- Part 3
-- Part 4

Short stories:
Murphy's Wife
Another Autumn
La Queja de Una
  Hermanastra Muy Conocida

Autobiography
-- Personal History
-- Hormones On Parade
-- Accidents, Random Mishaps,
    Personal Problems

.  .  .  .  .  .  .  .


OTHER SOURCES OF WHOLESOME ENTERTAINMENT

People/Weblogs:
dooce
foxvox
fudge it
fear not
rebekka
bookslut
802online
idle words
madhaiku
wockerjabby
grow-a-brain
rebel market
letting me be
out and about
kung fu grippe
fanatical apathy
baghdad burning
wfuv's music blog
kexp's music blog
mimi smartypants
between the miles
just a hippie gypsy
the impossible cool
tomato can brushes
vermont homestead
sugar mountain farm

Good Clean Fun:
gizmodo
futurismic
postsecret
dave barry
human clock
mcsweeney's
spaceweather
book-a-minute
internet archive
self-portrait day
my cat hates you
out of context quotes
surrealist compliment
  generator
strindberg and helium

Makin' Musical Whoopee:
last fm
stereo8
pandora
soma fm

.  .  .  .  .  .  .  .


ABOUT RWS/CONTACT





This page and all its contents copyright © 2001-2011 by runswithscissors unless otherwise noted.


runswithscissors would like to thank everyone who's ever lived for everything they've ever done.



Syndicate This Site


Blogarama

BlogCatalog

Bloggapedia, Blog Directory - Find It!



technorati profile

Subscribe with Bloglines

www.flickr.com
runswithscissors' photos More of runswithscissors' photos