I am at the top of the stairs, a little too old for the banister, but remembering that long slide from the top, the turn halfway down as I would pass the telephone room, then down into the two-story high anteroom that led to the great formal room, one end dining room, the other a living room, each with formal, city-like fireplaces. That long room that followed the sweep of the mountains outside.
I am at the top of the stairs and Nana is there too, beside big colored storage cabinets, not far from her self-contained quarters with her big canopied bed, from which she sometimes received company, and across from Gaga’s airy suite, where he had a big tile bathroom and dressing room with a doctor’s scale, a rack for his unusual razor, which was like a straight razor but with a safely guard on the blade, and the hook where he hung his truss – and after the dressing room his modest bedroom, which had a trap door to an iron circular staircase that led to his study, and after the bedroom his sleeping porch, a familiar addition here in the city person’s end of the White Mountains.
Nana stands by the heavy painted cabinets and I am thinking how everything is so solid here, nothing changes.
And then that is what she is talking about. She is telling me how important it is for her children – my father and uncle and pretty aunt – that she and Gaga had set up this house, these houses, and that she maintains them (all except White Wings which was recently sold) now that Gaga is dead, for it means so much to her children that they have this place to return to.
And I am wondering why my father comes so rarely. His brother would come more, it is said, but his wife, Aunt Peggy, doesn’t like the place. Aunt Betsy comes, but, although she has a small flat in England for herself, her natural son and the first of her adopted children, she has no career and really no other place to go.
And I am thinking what a waste this on those people of that in-between generation!
And I am thinking how when something went wrong – when I felt betrayed and hurt and angry and sad – and knew no one would believe me or take me seriously – Nana had spoken the words I believed I might never hear.
And then she had listened.