What she couldn’t bear to leave behind were ALL the memories that were, assigned to the floor she lived on, but, for her own good, adjustments needed to get made, translated…
We live in a four-story mansion, and, everything relating to life, mealtime, hanging the laundry, watching television, etc., etc., etc., we’d needed to climb up and down the stairs for. My parents who lived on the first floors were both retired, they’re at the age when they get to ride the busses for free, but, needing to look after my grandmother who’s over eighty, living on the fourth floors, it is, very difficult for them.
Some twenty odd years ago, I’d often run up the steps, to get some allowances from grandma. There was a china plate on her tables, full of change, she’d always warned me, “Whatever you spend, how much you take”, there were, so many coins on the plates, even if I’d taken over hundreds of dollars in change, nobody could tell; and yet, weird as that, the money accumulated, and, it seemed, as though, I can never fully, make the plate empty for some reasons.
After I’d gotten the changes, I’d gone around grandmother’s living room, turning on the television to watch some cartoons. As the sun entered from the west in the afternoons, I’d needed to pull the drapes, in order to watch the television programs. The cabinets by the walls stood erect, with photographs of the family on top, the older-fashioned turning chair was at the center of the living room, I can sit in it, and start spinning the chairs around, like a free-of-charge amusement park ride.
As I grew older, during the time of going to school and working, I’d rented out for over a dozen of years on end, Keelung, Hualien, Zhongli, Hsinchu………circled around half of Taiwan, as I’d returned back to my third-floor home in Taipei to live, I was, over thirty, and, I’d felt, that something was off about this place now.
all these clutters are saved for the sake of memories, not my photo…
First, the footsteps. My elders are all becoming elderly, they’d, shuffled along slowly in their daily lives, and, they’d taken turns, going up and down the stairs noisily in the house, waves of footsteps would come, after waves, time, and time again, over, and over………Like that sound that’s, annoying you in the nightmares. Then, it was, the flow of things. As my grandmother gone up and down the stairs, she’d needed to surpass the third floor, and could, take a peek, at what I was doing in my privacy, it felt, very, uncomfortable.
There was a typhoon that caused the third floor to leak once, as my father and I lifted our heads, to take a closer look, my grandmother rumbled downstairs, and started grilling my father, “the fourth floor’s leaking too, you only looked after your son, and ignored me totally!”, toward this emotional outburst that came out of nowhere, I’d replied instinctively, “Which grandmother calculated with the grandson…………”, but my father hushed me, “Child, be quiet!”, my father turned around, limped his way up the stairs to check, and that, was when I discovered, that my father had, worn out his knee on one side.
After this, I’d never made my way upstairs to visit my grandmother.
Later, with the compounding of multiple issues, my parents wanted my grandmother to move to the first floor to stay with him. AS I was ordered up to the fourth floor to move her things, that, was when I discovered that the windows were blocked by my grandmother by her quilt, the light couldn’t get in. The air became stuffy, the walls of a ton of her family and friends pasted on, some of whom had passed already, and yet, the suitcases that stacked up that were too worn reminded me of the clutter in the movies with the psychologically ill patients.
It wasn’t at all smooth, this move, my mother who’d fought against moving to the first floors with my parents was diagnosed with panic disorder. But, moving IS, the ONLY option, my father’s knees and my mother’s herniated disc exacerbated by the day, and finally, we were able to, move everything down while we were still all capable of so doing.
The fourth floor finally saw the light now, the furniture were all very simplistic, with a television and a DVD player. It’d become, a place that I can, relax in, to find my inspirations, to hold gatherings with my friends from time to time; and my grandmother’s conditions, they’d, improved, with moving in with my parents on the first floor too.
And now, whenever my parents went for their trips, or they needed to head out to handle their affairs, I was the one, going downstairs, to see that my grandmother was taken care of, has all she’d needed provided to her.
So, this third generation wanted her/his own space, and, the grandmother refused to move out of her floor, because she couldn’t deal with losing ALL the memories she’d kept steady at her small space, but, she’d refused to leave behind all the memories, but, the family moved her, and, it turned out to be, a good choice, because now, the grandmother lives on the first floor with the writer’s parents, is looked after by them regularly, has the company she’d longed for, the narrator got her/his own personal living space, and, the parents no longer felt strained by their bodies, and, this rearrangement of living had brought the family closer to each other.