Wednesday, September 18, 2013

Alan Flusser and My Mama

Any port in a storm, right? You know what I’m talking about. How many times have you been trapped during a family visit and enthusiastically volunteered to…run to the store…drop off something at the post office…you know…anything and I mean anything…just to get out of the house and feel the fresh winds of freedom on your face?  Even if it’s for only fifteen minutes.

I love my mama in the way that—well—I was about to say in the way that only Southern boys love their mamas but it ain’t true. All boys can love their mamas this way if they so choose. And I do love my mom. But I’m back home caring for my mom this week and I’m in that emotional and humbling crucible again. The one that’s been shilly-shallying between a rolling boil cauldron and a slow-cook ennui crock-pot since March. We aren't special and I'm not looking for sympathy. But I can say unequivocally that it's hell--with brief, transient rays of hope. I think.
So when I found a thirty minute reprieve day before yesterday I was on it like a rat on a damn Cheeto. Drug store for various mama supplies and since Stein Mart was a 3-wood away, I spent my extry time there.
The Alan Flusser—Stein Mart relationship goes back probably fifty-plus years ago. Alan Flusser and Jay Stein were sleep-away camp mates during their formative years and have remained close ever since. I always get a kick out of seeing Alan’s Stein Mart thumbprint here in Florence, S.C. There’s not much of a Stein Mart presence in the D.C. area so I don’t get to see this stuff all the time.
Every time I'm there I get the urge to stop some random Stein Mart shopper and say “look…see that guy Flusser and all of these clothes with his name on 'em?...well he’s in my speed dial…look…here it is if you don’t believe me…hit the button and we’ll call him if you really don’t believe me.” And it would really be a kick if I’d wear a pair of Alan’s hand me down bespokeydoke shoes and take one of them off in Stein Mart and show it to the poor stranger who I’ve buffaloed into hearing my Flusser caca and tell him that story. Butcept I don’t wear those kinda shoes in Florence, S.C. People...even if they’ve known you their whole-entire complete life...will whip your ass for wearing such things around here. Belgians are a huge risk and that’s where I draw the line. My mama even looks at those kinda cockeyed.
So I walk into Stein Mart and the Flusser goods are preening front and center. Alan’s style tweaks on these mass produced, mid-tier quality goods are always there. It’s consistently there in color and pattern and a design treatment or two. But within reason…mind you…there are fuzz limits since...these goods are made…over “there”.
But this season, the Flusser Stein Mart goods are off the hook tasty. Blown away might be a bit too strong but it's close. I’m just telling you…the look for the money index strongly favors pouncing on some of this if you live near a Stein Mart. The first thing that caught me was the less than seventy-five dollars corduroy blazers. Oh, and kiss my a_s in advance for those of you who are gonna say... “yeah but it’s gonna look like crap in a year”. Well guess what mister quality man…not everyone can afford to go to Macy’s…where Dockers wearin, beer bellied wad of adipose gets swathed. Lordy I’ve got anger issues.
I’d a snapped a few more pictures…including the double vents and the contrasting felt collar treatment on one of the corduroy jackets but I’d taken so many already that I figgered Hoyt or Darnell…you know…the Stein MartMinions would collar me any minute. Plus my shore leave was about to expire and I had to get back home.
And this season’s goods include a Tattersal shirt that equals the Cordings look at much less the tariff. Cordings aesthetics parity in Florence, South Carolina. Damn.
The colors and patterns are extry rich and there are brushed cotton trousers to complement the four corduroy jacket color choices.
I’m broke. Seriously so. But I’ve spent more on parking in one night in D.C. than you’ll have to spend on one of these jackets. And the Flusstouch…is there…inside and out.
If I can spare it, I think I’m gonna go back before I leave tomorrow and snag this cardigan sweater. Surely there are fuzzier things than this cardigan number. The paisley-floral patterned shirts always catch my eye but I never seem to be able to rig ‘em up properly. Plus...LFG would f.l.i.p. out if I showed up in one of them. This sweater however, is just jaunty enough to aggravate my number one woman and that’s fine with me.
A bit of LFG aggravation will at least induce a grunt out of her and trust me—lately I’ve come to cherish churlish grunts and eye-rolls. Y’all tell me that it’s a phase but I’m too old for phases. Shut up.
So my mom was supposed to die in March. Two weeks in a coma of sorts and we decide to pull the plug on the respirator and say goodbye. Formulaic for middle aged kids to say goodbye to parents who at eighty-three years old with rapidly declining qualities of life are ready to go, right? This transcendental, humbling, defining event with my mom has taught me to tread these issues less stridently.

Instead of dying, my mom wakes up and is four-plus pissed off that she’s missed three episodes of The Walking Dead. My sibs and I...through tears and snot and bi-polar emotions are now laughing at and with our mom. Two more weeks in the ICU and then it’s rehab hospitals and another round at the acute care hospital and now after almost six months...home. She needs 24/7 care but my brother calculated that the cost of caring for her at home is no greater than at the nursing home. So here we are. And here this week...I am. My mom left home in an ambulance in March and with the exception of ambulance and transport rides, hasn't had the sunshine on her face since then.

And it's been good for me to again engage in this level of servitude. It puts everything else in perspective. Drywall repairs? New appliances to buy and install? That stuff's a walk in the damn park my friend. Let me tell you. My fully lucid mother who is once again opinionated and tasky and funny and loving…has the use of her hands. And that’s it.
I seek no accolades for helping my mom. It’s what I’m supposed to do. And if anyone deserves a medal, it’s my baby brother. He’s local and he’s put his life on hold for this. And that’s why when he and his partner decided to go ahead and get married last Saturday on the beach at Litchfield, who was I to say let’s wait till things settle a bit. Hell, things may never settle. So he’s honeymooning and I’m doing the five in the afternoon till nine in the morning shift solo. Bedpans and all.
I’m meeting with a carpenter in the morning to get a wheelchair ramp built. But it was so lovely yesterday that Bobbie Jean, mom’s angel who comes during the day, and I decided to lift that damn wheelchair ourselves and get mom out in the sunshine. How would you feel, the moment the sun kissed your face for the first time since March?

I will not be able to muster the words to describe it. I think being outside for thirty minutes in absolutely beautiful weather was as great for my mom as any pill or any physical therapy visit could ever be. The wheelchair ramp can’t get built fast enough. Daily rolls around the block will be as good an unguent as anything for my mom.
And then there’s Harry. I went to school with Harry from kindergarten through high school. He has cerebral palsy and lives next door to my mom. Harry’s parents bought the house next door and customized it so that Harry could live a dignified independent life there. And he does. To say that he’s an inspiration is an understatement. I wish that I could find a copy of the letter that he wrote my mom when my stepfather died five years ago. Harry is a big ole beautiful pile of humanity living in that gnarled, uncoordinated vessel of his.
Harry, like us, never figured that my mom would ever be home. So he’s seen the sporadic pulse of comings and goings next door as various ones of us have squatted in our childhood home while mostly staying with my mom at whatever facility she’s been in. And I can only assume that when he saw my mom outside, he got in his motorized wheelchair and bounded as fast as that thing would take him...out of the house to come over and see her.
You can’t fake this. The joy and love energy circling my mom and Harry was palpable. Their reunion was sublime. And I don’t give a damn if you call me a p_ssy for crying. I had to go get behind the azaleas for a minute so that they wouldn’t see me joyfully convulsing. Sweet.

So it’s off to meet with the wheelchair ramp man in the morning. Then back to the D.C. area in the afternoon. My intent is to make someone else joyfully convulse this weekend. Shut up.

Onward. Just freakin’ upside down with all that’s afoot. Butcept with a new Stein Mart Flusser sweater.

ADG II…Convulserator


LPC said...

If you only ever wrote one post, ever, this should be it.

Also your book title.


The photo of the head hug is beyond wonderful.

ADG said...

LPC...Prunella...Congrats to you and yours! I think I was commenter number one thousand and eleven to offer the same over at your blog. I wish for you a long and loving connection with your fella. And thanks as always for your words here.

Claire M. Johnson said...

My stepfather died this spring. Similar kind of rock and roll with hospitals, etc. Then he came home. He had about a month when he could manage the stairs (then he couldn't), and one afternoon I took the two of them down to the local Barnes and Noble for a outing. Just to get him out of the damn house. You'd think we were having an audience with the queen. He told me it was the nicest afternoon he had in months. Yep, the sun on his face and a couple of books in his hand. Wakes you up, doesn't it? Glad to hear your mother's home and feeling those rays on her face.

Unknown said...

Bless you.

ilovelimegreen said...

Your mother is coming home? Wow! Wow! Wow!
If you go back to Steinmart, could you please get me that green paisley shirt? Please? I loved the Steinmart that used to be in Chevy Chase. But PLEASE do not get a corduroy jacket.

tjtevlin said...

Wow! This brought more than a few tears to my eyes.
Best TJT

yoga teacher said...

Aww, my wheelchair-refusing mom took out a whole rack of clothes when she fell on one of our last field trips to Stein-mart! They were all over us. It's kind of an older ladies' store down here.

Young Fogey said...

Anything I might say about what's going on with your mama would be trite, so I'll be as terse as I can.




Is it merely coincidence that these are antonyms for what I would say about most of the Flusser foppings?

Anonymous said...

Oh, my. Thanks for that, is all I can think to say.

Nick said...

beautiful post - thank you.

ADG said...

Thanks. Everyone. I didn't so much rig this story to poleaxe you at the end. But I DID have to find a way to share the photos of my mom and Harry...because it's those moments that kinda make the less rewarding parts of this visit so worth it.

It's not all bliss here. For mama and I got in an argument last night over a ham and egg biscuit. She won.

Anonymous said...

Your mama's been winning arguments with you for over 50 years. Sometimes you just didn't notice. Flusser for Stein Mart is like one of those DesignerTarget things- only it's every day, all of the time. Whether or not he needs the money (which I hope he doesn't) it's a nice steady gig and a way to be actually famous, but I still wonder who buys all of those paisley shirts. I sure am glad you wrote this instead of some rattle-me-sabre crep about Murray's and Nantucket Communists.

Anonymous said...

"Dockers wearin, beer bellied wad of adipose". So you DID see my Facebook page! Beautiful post, Max. Simply beautiful.
Douglas Webber

Anonymous said...

Beautiful! Thanks, Max.


Anonymous said...

Never knew the connection between Jay S. and alanflusser, this lush display makes sense 'cause Jay's back now having ceded his powers so he could sit comfortably as Chairman, but the numbers fell so that didn't last, Jay's baaaack. [Steinmart and its corporate stats are considered local news here.] I love the idea of Jay pickin up the phone, them two giants having a chat, resulting in these goodies you're showing us. Go on ahead and get you that sweater, but don't leave the store til they can match it with some bowling shoes.

Max, what you, your words and your camera conveyed going on between Buddy and Mama [and you] is ... holy.


Pigtown*Design said...

Amazing post from an amazing man. I {heart} you.

Anonymous said...

Shit, keep having to tell myself not to read your Mom posts while at work!!

Silk Regimental said...

Thanks for the Mama update. Stein Mart calls me if I've been absent too long. You're a good guy!

Anonymous said...

Ms. Green, good news from SteinMart corporate HQ-town!

SteinMart has a new online presence. Is this the shirt you want? If so, look how easy!


Anonymous said...

I don't comment often, but your photo of your mother and Harry brought tears to my eyes.


Mike said...

Dear Dustin,

all my best wishes for your mum!

Btw: What's the problem with Dockers? Ain't them Trad or Preppy enough?

Would Jack Donnelly's be right choice because they're made in USA?

I'd like to understand these rules, but I don't, 'cause I'm German.

I'll send you a dollah right away.


Patsy said...

Oh, so lovely.

I drive through a fairly rough neighborhood on my commute and yesterday, saw a young man, a boy really, dressed in his "gear" walk a special needs boy (his brother?) to meet the bus with such love and tenderness. Everyone has battles, they are not always apparent.

This reminds me of that.

ilovelimegreen said...

Flo - yess!!! And now I am in big trouble - did not occur to me that Steinmart had an online store.

Anonymous said...

Can only say what others have said - beautiful. The pictures are beyond words. Though every situation is different, there are some things about caring for an elderly parent with some medical issues that are pretty much universal; it's a crazy mix of intense emotion, arguments, apathy, wonder, exhaustion, anger, gallows humor and love -- with your adult siblings as much as your parent. Hope there's a lot of humor in your family, too -- sometimes that's all that keeps you going. Best, Elisabeth

emilyatheart said...

Your post had me at "Mama". Beautifully written, beautifully engaging, beautifully poignant. Real and honest too. I already love you.


Kay said...

Great post. It made me emotional, too. The whole thing. Keep on keepin' on.

Reggie Darling said...

Up at nearly 3 am wth insomnia, catching up with my reading here. Tears in my eyes reading this post. Of happiness, and respect, and all the mixed up emotions this brings to mind. You are an inspiration, Dusty. Thank you. Reggie

poloist12 said...

Wow Stine Mart is still in bisiness? Thought they all closed.

Anonymous said...

What LPC said...and then some.

Been there (Richmond-Greenville, SC). Done that. (Days to weeks at a time.) Never so exhausted in my life. Understand completely. Blessings!! Liz

Scale Worm said...

Good luck Sir. Thank you again for sharing with us.
You are a super trooper.

Best wishes

ADG said...

AnonMamaArgument…YES, she’s been winning all of the arguments and I learned at about age four to make certain that she does. Re Alan and Stein Mart…I’m sure he enjoys styling that line every season and whatever compensation he gets from it icing on the cake I reckon. And I WILL write something about Murray’s and the Red Fiasco.

Douglas…sorry that you got caught up in my ugly, unfair stereotype…because ugly and unfair…you ain’t!

OrderLapper…thanks. The weather was great in S.C. this week.

AnonFlomatia…HA! It does look like a bowling sweater. And yes, Stein Mart got slammed back when the economic world blew up…just like everyone else. They closed the store in Chevy Chase (and I’m sure in other high rent places) which didn’t surprise me ‘cause the rent has to be sky damn high. Oh, and don’t worry about calling Harry, Buddy…he’d chuckle.

MegTown…thanks. Ain’t it funny that I’ve still got your housewarming gift…after 3 years.

AnonymousWorkReader…sorry. I’ll back off the maudlin shit for a while.

SilkREggie…If I’d shopped at Stein Mart more than other joints, I’d a had enough dough to buy a Triumph!

StacyfrPgh…it WAS one of those moments when I was glad that I had my iphone camera already out…snapping pics of my mom.

German Blogger Mike...Thanks. And I just checked out your blog. But I can’t figure out how to become a follower. OH and Dockers…They aren’t trad/preppy at all. They’re just wrong…at least to me. I’ve seen too many redneck good ole boys in sweat soaked golf shirts adorned with their semi-private country club logos…sporting Dockers.
And I’m not THAT hung up on made in USA stuff…so Donnelly’s isn’t necessarily THE choice. ANYHING without a “Dockers” sewn on tag would be THE choice. The Murray’s Nantucket Reds issue is an outlier re made in USA…and one that I will
take on next week.

Oh…and don’t worry about sending me a dollah. Germany’s been sending Euros to EVERYBODY so I’ll forgo the fiscal benevolence for now. I hear Greece calling you as I type this.

Patsy said...” Everyone has battles, they are not always apparent” … Love the way you said this.

Elisabeth…You’ve captured it perfectly. And not to take away from the fact that you did…but…I DO believe that those who have had to care for frail parents can easily convey similar “crazy-mixes”. And my sibs and I have done fairly well but it hasn’t been without some drama. I whipped my brother’s ass right there on the beach—in front of everyone—as soon as he said “I do”. He had it coming.

emilyatheart...Thanks very much…Donna.…thanks! I loved reading your blog. That trunk for the charity auction was fantastic. And it went for a bargain!

Reggie Darling...Thanks my friend. Let’s lunch in Gotham sometime soon.

poloist12...I’m gonna help you with your spelling my friend! And where the hell you been? And how’s your daughter?

The Classic Preppy...Liz…thanks. Like I’ve said a zillion times…My family isn’t special re this journey we’re on. But you’ve said it right…the level of physical and emotional exhaustion is unequalled.

Scale Worm...I’ve never been called a super trooper. May I capitalize it?

Anonymous said...

"I whipped my brother’s ass right there on the beach—in front of everyone—as soon as he said 'I do.'"

Something tells me this was more a Maxian toast to a patiently waiting bride than an excoriation of thine late to the altar brother, sibling revelry. My birth order set me between two brothers, what doesn't kill ya...

My poor adorable husband, deep sympathetic sigh, alas a multiple Maxian sinner who plays golf at a semi-private golf course, wearing dockers and a sweat-soaked polyester golf shirt with cleated bowling shoes. And a Timex watch. HeJustDoesNotCare and that is that. Withhold thine harsh judgement, look kindly upon such creatures Max.

-Amen, brother

[is that a 6 or an 8, I'm goin with 6....]

GSL said...

Even that cardigan couldn't lessen the beauty of that moment between Harry and your mother.

ADG said...

AnonMaxian Toast...duly noted re your assumption on the "late to the altar" variable. It ain't accurate though. This wasn't his first trip. Oh, and Timex watches are fine.

GSL...I will rock the cardigan.

Phil Asby said...

Reader for some time. From Stein Mart (got em here in the Queen City and I will have that cardigan) - to ramps to azalea convulsing. This may be your high water mark. I need some eye drops as the ragweed is making my eyes water a bit...

Blevin said...

Thanks for this, Max.

poloist12 said...

Come on bro I was on my phone and it was a fat finger. Man i have been busy, busy, busy. I've since moved to Des Moines; no longer in AR. New girlfriend; commdities broker, and I now am working for a hedge fund group. But i will be checking in from time to time now that i'm settled in; bad spelling and all.

poloist12 said...

Oh and the kido is doing great; the mother on the other hand yeeesh. Syd is still at soccer, and riding, and her grades are still above par. All i can really ask for.

Golf Tango Hotel said...

Beautiful moment and thanks for sharing....and I mean about your mama, not the Steinmart visit, although I was inspired to visit my local outlet and did acquire the tattersall. Thanks for the heads up.