One of my mom’s favorite words was festive. “How festive!,” she’d cry after a particular kind of eccentricity inspired her to buy fifty mini Bundt pans. I’m not exaggerating. I still unlock drawers full of holiday lollipop molds. When I needed a large pot to brine my thanksgiving turkey last year, I found a copper caldron. My mom did not kid around (except when she laughed so hard her eyes closed and her chin seemed to knock her collar bones). She liked feasts, Fibonacci, M.C. Escher and Calvin Klein stockings. For 25 cents, I washed the sheer pairs in our bathroom sink. In one obituary, she’s described as a “professor [that] helped students overcome their fear of math.” She titled her dissertation at Columbia University, Alice’s Adventures in the Shaded Region: An Analysis of An Eclectic Approach to Evaluation. She could also be very nervous. Her cheeks would flush a deep red. They would also flush when she drank wine. She liked Merlot.
When she was living alone in Vermont, she wrote home to say that she looked “forward to returning to the hectic New York scene (including all the art openings, plays and masses of people).” I like how the city’s bluestone shines after a night’s rain. It feels like I’m walking on pocket mirrors. I also like mountains and feeling like I am in the palm of one. She wrote Lake Willoughby was peaceful.
I understand her. I think I always have. I just understand her on a deeper level now. Her integrity was like a bridge’s cable that drew from her toes to her brow. Barbara. I don’t know any others.
Next Friday will be ten years. I don’t know what I think about memory anymore. Can I conjure an image of an actual face or a photograph of that face? Where is the memory of live action? Of moving arms? Turning heads? I remember moments we had in cabs and how insular they felt. How special.
She wrote that:
Her sister’s call for assistance was heard not only by Alice but by many people enjoying a day in the park on this golden afternoon. They walked towards Alice and her sister.
“It appears,” said Alice’s sister, “that this park attracts a good many members of the evaluation community.”
“What do you mean by members of the evaluation community?” asked Alice.
“They are people who have thought critically about the field of program evaluation,” responded Alice’s sister. “Do you see them coming towards us?”