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.
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 you...you 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.