The lounge over there is red, a bright red color, which at least is still red when it’s dark night outside the window, all now wet with rain. That same lounge was the lounge that I would sit with her, when Anne, my great aunt ‘grandma’ came over. Not that often, usually when my parents were out. Out on nights like this one, but tonight the lounge was empty of her. “You miss her ?”, I asked it, walking over to it. I flopped down in the leather, cool then warm, reached over an picked up my drink. The glass was her usual, as was the drink in it. Staring at the bubbles of vodka coke in the glass, and the beads of rain on the window outside of the room.
How could anyone drink vodka with coke in it – it should kill a normal person, drinking this all the time, every day for 80 years or so. People think doing anything normal will kill you. Eating peanut butter, drinking wine, drinking beer, as if there is a perfect normal somewhere that if found would extend your life by a day or more. I decided to pour this on in honor of Anne. Anne, she used to drink these every day. So full of life right to the end. At 95 she must have decided to call it quits and allow her vibrant spirit full of vodka cokes to lift up to heaven, where of course she belonged. No doubt about it. At the funeral today, they had read out a eulogy of her life which sounded like the history of the world all the wars, fights, loving, floods, droughts, bushfires and friendships packed into her particular century.
A history that Anne brought me into. A vivid red and white and blue flag of necessary adventure which she recognized might just be missing from my life.
“Do you wan’t a drink ?” I hear her say… “No, I am not old enough” I would reply. “Tell me a story” I would say.. . Tonight I got up like lead off the red lounge. It was cold, but i walked over to the fridge, and looked at it for a long time. It was stupid of me to get into this mood. How I missed Anne, her laughter and funny stories. Now God only knows the stories she will tell. I wonder if God listens to them ? Perhaps he has a bunch of story angels that wander around with Vodka Coke’s in hand listening patiently to the stories of all the Saints who made it to there. I felt the cold handle of the freezer door, and opened it up. Inside was a solitary Klondike bar, the last one out of the pack of 6 original. OK then, I picked up the bar thinking to myself.
I walked back over to the red lounge all curvy red and sat down again in the white room. I waited thinking over the stories she told. When I was still younger, Anne used to always start the stories, and go through funny things that happened and made me laugh and see life through her own vividness. After we laughed, she would go to the freezer and bring out an icecream, just like that one, there on the table. “Since you are too young to drink, at least you could share an icecream with me.” Anne had said. “OK YES, mum never lets me have an icecream late at night like this” I would reply.
“Troubles will come and you must be adventurous, drink some of this, and have faith in Jesus Christ”, she had said. Still I had said no. “How about an icecream then ?” she always was happy to add.. It was always a Klondike bar, just like the one on the table, thawing out with it’s white crystals of ice forming on the white polar bear on blue on it’s shiny wrapper.
On the table, there was now three items. The Vodka Coke, nearly empty, the Klondike bar, and a leatherman knife. The knife’s convenience and blue steel color still threatening me with it’s potentially ‘ end of the line in pain ‘ demeanour.
I picked up the knife. Why ? What would it matter if it slipped a bit and cut blood would run out. I thought. Then I carefully put it down. Whatever !
I took up the Klondike bar, unwrapped the top half, then ate it, like a polar bear and head ache as well. I scrunched up the wrapper, enjoying that one memory of childhood with her.
Then I picked up the glass. “Here’s to you Anne!” I cried. Then with tear’s falling into the tiny bubbles of the coke. I took a sip. It wasn’t like the raw bubbly coke of childhood. It had that kind of muted taste, picking up some aniseed and salt along the way with the vodka and tears I guess. I drank it all as well.