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Dinner at DeCarlos

22 Apr

A very experienced writer friend told me to set deadlines. And that is something I often leave out when I am writing. I do the work, but let it sit, sometimes for weeks, or worse. I think I could come back to it later and make it better. It could always be better. Who would have thought that I would turn out to be a perfectionist? I am so casual and easygoing about most things, never focusing on making things perfect around my house. That is partially because there are so many things wrong. If I tried to make things perfect, it would be an endless project.

I live with my one-hundred-year-old mother in her house in Washington, D.C., a house which I believe was built in approximately 1924. There is a great deal of upkeep. For instance, there are rotting window sills, falling trees, deer eating the roses, cracks in the pavement of the driveway, and peeling paint in out- of- the- way places. Everything can be fixed, except for the deer eating the roses. They are permanent. It is illegal to shoot them. Nothing scares them. Someday, this house will be bought by some very special person wanting a large piece of property in the city. Perhaps a big company, or an embassy, or an investment group will buy it. They can decide what to do.

In the meantime, I entertain my mother at meals and by bringing in friends and taking her out to eat at clubs or restaurants. She has a good life, but she is forgetful, now. She loves the fun of getting dressed up every day as if she were going somewhere very fancy. She always wears pastel colors and her jewelry matches her clothes. Often, she wears little fingerless gloves because she is so easily chilled, especially her fingers, toes, and her nose. (She even has a couple of nose warmers knit from pretty, colored yarn). These also match her outfit. She always carries a matching purse and a Pashmina of the same shade.

She often changes her clothes again before going out to dinner. She will wear a completely different color scheme if she does that. For instance, if she has been in what we call “lipstick pink” (a bright fuchsia), she will change into something turquoise or perhaps chartreuse. Never does she ever wear black or gray or beige or brown. She glows with color. And her blond hair surrounds her pretty face like a halo. In a dark restaurant, she stands out. To prove my point, here is a little story about what happened at the end of the week.

Last Friday, my mother and I went out to dinner with two of my children to a local restaurant, DeCarlo’s on Yuma Street in Washington. We sat at a table for four

and enjoyed the companionship and the delicious food. The couple who had been having a meal at the table next to us got up to leave. The man came over to our table and said, looking directly at my mother, “You are so pretty. You are just beautiful. I have been watching you, and I just wanted to tell you before I left how amazing you look.”

Mother blossomed under his words. She did not know him, but she blushed and smiled broadly and basically flirted with him with her eyes. He blew her some kisses and left with his patient wife.

My children and I laughed uproariously at the fact that the man had singled out my one- hundred- year- old Mother. But, it was not the first time that has happened. As my daughter said, “Gramma is a ‘guy magnet.’”And she is. Men have always been drawn to her for her beauty and her sunny nature. She is sweet- tempered and it shows in her face. It was very thoughtful of that man to express his admiration for her. There are almost no contemporaries left to flatter her. She misses having a real beau and being complimented. And yet, she is still getting paid compliments that most women never receive. She is a lucky lady and so are we to have been able to witness that.

Writers, mostly all, are scared to write. At least all the writers I know seem to be. I am no different. But I promised myself that I would post something on my blog today. So, I am taking a leap of faith and doing it. I hope you enjoyed reading about my mother and her adventures at the age of one hundred.

©Bonnie B. Matheson 2018

One of the scariest and best things I have ever done.

22 Dec

“Oh my! No time to pour my heart out. It overflows already as I go through the leftover possessions, photos, files, clothes, and everything in every drawer of my large house. I am leaving.
It is wrenching, but worth it. A new life beckons even though I will be living in my mother’s house and not my own. Even though I have no paying job at the moment. Still, I am elated with the innumerable opportunities available to me!”

I wrote these words in the midst of my move and you can hear the anguish and tension along with the hopeful quality which made it possible to do this with so little forethought.

And the results have been positive beyond belief. First of all I am happy. I am happy in my newly painted, robin’s egg blue room. Some of my favorite small things have found a resting place here. My vermeil dresser set which belonged to my grandmother Lilla Youngblood Buchanan sits atop the dresser. Along with many of my clothes, this piece of furniture holds my necessary accessories such as gloves, and headbands, jeweled hair clips and small scarves and sachets and some simple jewelry and broken treasures not yet repaired. There is a photograph of the pear trees at Heathfield before they came down. I will share that story at a future date. A great lesson which I remember every time I look at that photo. There is a cup, hard-painted by Jules Fritz who used to be the gardener here when I was a little girl. It has my name and his and the date Xmas 1949. This is one of my most cherished possessions.

Several favorite lamps illuminate the space with various amounts of wattage. Sometimes I write with only romantic low lighting surrounding me. Other times I use the brightest setting to distinguish one set of black trousers from another, ditto black turtle necks. Light comes in very handy in those instances.

People who wear a great deal of black will understand.


Mostly this room is a happy place where I play my own music. I sit with and cuddle my long haired, black and tan dachshund Magnus. We both enjoy this. Sometimes I open the doors to my balcony and let Magnus go outside and sun himself while I read or write. He lets me know if anyone approaches the house. I have plenty of free time here in my upper story lair at the opposite end of the house from my mothers room.

If you must caretake for an older parent, be sure you have an area in which to retreat and gather new energy. Rebooting, I call it. And just as it helps your phone or computer, it will help you, too.

These days I take time for myself and I meditate. Meditation has changed my life. It has changed me. The idea is to never skip a day. And it is rare that I do. Even a few minutes can make a huge difference in my day. In fact, I am going to go find a quiet spot in which to meditate right now.

December 21st 2017

Fall 2017 A Time of Change

23 Oct

Sometimes we suddenly know what to do next. Solutions just come down to us as a message from outside ourselves. Some might say it is divine, others simply point to inspiration from our own inner selves. It really does not matter. The point is to follow when the directions are given.

Lately this happened to me as I swam peacefully doing “lengths” all alone one morning. I have been torn lately by my desire to be in my house in Charlottesville Virginia and by the necessity of being in Washington DC with my charming and healthy 99 year old mother. Her friends are mostly gone and she is lonely. What a dilemma! No matter in which place I found myself there was always a pull to be in the other location.

Then that September morning as I swam, it suddenly came to me. The Serenity Prayer which I first heard at a High School assembly, popped into my mind. I am sure you know it:

“God, grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change, the courage to change the things I can, and the wisdom to know the difference.”

The sentiments involved in that prayer have guided me over and over in my life but sometimes, I need a little push. That is what I got that day in the cool, gentle water, under a clear blue sky. A thunderbolt of an idea that has sent me on a difficult path. I understood that I cannot do anything about my aging mother and her need for entertainment and management of her help. That is out of my hands. But what I can do is stop being divided in my attention. It is entirely in my power to give up my house in Charlottesville and move permanently to live full time with Mother in Washington DC.

As I write this, I am in Charlottesville moving out of my house to live in Washington DC.  But I got sick last week when I first came down here.  REALLY SICK. I am sure it was psychological because it is wrenching to move and to give away my things.

Deciding to divest myself of my things was a big decision which I did not consider for much more than an instant. I just knew immediately that it was the right thing to do.

I am making space, making space in my life for whatever is coming next. As I keep telling friends and family, it is very liberating.  But of course there is a huge sense of loss of a former self and a host of memories associated with each object, each piece of furniture, each set of china, each lamp, painting and rug and every piece of silver….So, even if I am completely happy about the move and about giving these possessions away….There is still an emotional wrench.

So I got sick.  Now my health has improved and though there is still a lingering cough and congestion.  Because I could not go back to Mother’s house with that horrible cold/flu I have stayed in Charlottesville all week.  So I am almost finished with my moving out. What a sense of satisfaction I shall have at the end. I am almost there!