May 4, 2020

Coherence

Five years ago today, I attended a funeral for my grandmother in the same church where she was baptized in 1918. “Her life was coherent,” said the priest. I did not know her as well as I would have liked, but I know she was tradition personified, a west side Polish Catholic who served Saturday night dinners of kielbasa and fried smelt. She had a succession of Scottish terriers, each named Mitsy. I think she left off at Mitsy V, maybe VI.

She had the same house with the same furniture arrangement for seventy years. I recently came across a snapshot of my mother and her brothers in 1959 and I recognized all of the furniture. The only thing that changed in the house was the television screen. On the back, my grandmother had written a note in pristine cursive: “The smudge is on the film, not the wall of my living room.”

My life is not coherent. I crave motion and flux, and I cannot tell if this reflects inner discomfort or a kind of ease with the world.

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