Sunday, 11 July 2010

Tidying frenzy... oh yes..oh no!

Okaasan has tidied her living room.

That is amazing. We've lived here 14 months now and this is the first time.
The sofa is clear of stuff. The carpet is clear. Around the kotatsu table is clear.



All the stuff: underwear, T-shirts, socks, newspapers and advertising flyers.....are now heaped up in a 30 cm high mound on the futon in the so-called, but never-used bedroom next door.

And I am wondering what will happen next. Will she move it all back again in dribs and drabs or in armfuls. Or fold them up and put them away. Or just leave them THERE for 14 months more????
How does she feel about it? Stressed not to be surrounded by all the clothes she might need anytime? Puzzled? What?

This was all caused by us having a BBQ at home. Actually a very successful BBQ with about 20 friends dropping from lunchtime at 12 until the last staggered away at gone 10 pm. Rain forced us to set up under the subway line bridges, but it was perfect for the two kids to run around the grass where the kittens run (and unfortunately shit) - and the adults ate and drunk ourselves into happiness.

But, back to Okaasan.
As we were preparing for the BBQ in the morning we fed Okaasan her lunch about 11.15 am in the kitchen. Yujiro has been reminding her a lot recently that she really doesn't have to exit the house through the living room windows and is of course very welcome to be home while there is a BBQ...or to come out thru the f ront door and just say "Hello, I'm going shopping for the third squid this week" as she heads out.
Okaasan finished her lunch and then offered to help me cut stuff for salads. Pretty surprising: she almost never shows an interest (thankfully) in me cooking. I set her up at the kitchen table with a knife, a plate and some walnuts.

But she never got onto the cutting....

Instead she went into her living room and bedroom doing something....I glanced up.

She was scooping up armfuls of stuff and moving them into the bedroom.
After a few moments when I realized what she was doing I intervened.
"Ahh, Okaasan, you don't need to tidy your room for the party! It's a BBQ and our friends will all be outside in the garden, only coming into the house to use the toilet or maybe the kitchen."

"But the child/children might come in to my room and watch the TV. So I should clear space for them."
The children? Watch TV?
"Yes, like last year you had a BBQ and that child came in and watched TV with me..."
"???? It's ok, we have a TV upstairs if the children want to watch TV..."
"But last year the child/children came in and watched Tv with me, so he/they might do that again. So I should tidy my room!"


And tidy she did. Swept it all into the out-of-sight bedroom. Her room looked normal!
I finished the salad alone and went outside to tell Yujiro the amazing delevopments.

The BBQ got underway an hour or so later.....Okaasan stayed in her room watching TV.
But about an hour later...she told Yujiro she'd decided to go out for a walk....and off she went thru the front door and disappeared for a few hours. Came home mid-afternoon and sat amid the cleared surfaces watching more Tv until it was time for me to sober up enough at 7 pm to cook and serve her dinner.

And now - the following morning. The surfaces are still cleared. A vest, one pair of pants, a T shirt and an apron have crept back onto the sofa.

What will happen next?

It's interesting this story about the child watching TV. I couldn't think who it was at first. But now I remember - because Okaasan's memory on this is better than mine??!! - that last August when Ikuko came (actually the day I heard that Dad had died) - Ikuko's son Kevin did go in and talk to Okaasan for a few minutes in her room!
So THAT experience - plucked out of all the BBQs we've had before or since - came into Okaasan's mind when she saw us prepping for a BBQ yesterday.

And she realized that her room was no place for visitors and decided to clear it all out of sight.

But now what happens will be interesting.
I really think the clothes strewn all around are a comfort thing for Okaasan. Maybe she thinks she is in a permanent mid-laundry day - you know that state you are when sorting out stuff...clean or dirty...when it's all around you in piles. For me that state is about 30 minutes on a good day...1 day on a bad week...for Okaasan it's never-ending. She NEVER gets to the point of putting the stuff in order and putting it away. Just wears or washes it again.

But now she herself has out it all in the other room.
Will this give her stress? Or will she just fetch it all back in to the living room?


  1. It will be interesting to see what happens. It's interesting that Okaasan has suddenly changed behaviour like this all of a sudden. Do you feel dread that maybe she will go back into her old behaviour or do you think she is improving for good?

  2. bizarre - that she can recall something from so long ago, and have it be such a vivid memory amongst other things that 'we' would presume were more 'memory' worthy. Perhaps she will just up and move her TV into the messy room now?

    Sounds like you were able to have a good BBQ though - yay for BBQs that last half the day. Nice.