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Monthly Archives: January 2013

Requium for a Dead Mall

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Sign of the times

The waning days of January finds our town saying goodbye to Miracle City Mall, our modest hometown mall that I’ve loved (and loved to hate) for more than four decades.  It’s been several Januarys since MCM made the calendar, but this is indeed The End.

Prices are now slashed to 50 percent off at J.C. Penney, the first anchor tenant in 1968 and the last store still open.  I had no luck sniffing out bargains when all I could smell was the mildewy odor that permeates the entire mall. Most of the women shoppers my age looked like they were on the verge of tears.  I was too.

This was our place.  We were the kids who hung out at the new mall when it opened, and here we were as AARPers to pay our respects.

Smack in the middle of the now-empty mall sits Dave’s.  Ever since polyester and platforms it’s where  we’ve gone for a cold drink and a hot dog, maybe some nachos or a hot pretzel.  The booths, stools and counter are in a late 70s holding pattern, yet  the analog clock has always been set a few minutes fast.  With The End approaching, the Dave’s faithful have gathered twice already to show their love.  Yesterday, just like at a real funeral, we stood in line to sign the guest book.  Many waiting in that long line were young parents pushing little ones in strollers, young people who never enjoyed the glory days of the mall like we did.  Clutching my Chicago dog and Peach Julius-like drink, I could have sworn it was 19-something all over again and not 2013.

One thing does make me smile:  they chose Feb. 2–Groundhog Day–as the mall’s last day. 





Fresh Start

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Just dragged the still-deliciously fragrant Christmas tree down to the curb.  Every year I’m a little sad to pack away the holidays.  This year, however, my usual wistfulness is amped up considerably.  That lovely fir gave me great happiness this holiday season.

We survived a challenging 2012–my husband’s cancer diagnosis and multiple surgeries, both kids moving far away, demanding schedules at work, the declining health of our parents.  Right before my husband’s life-saving, life-changing surgery in December, we bought the tree and circled it with lights.  I wanted it there when we came home, ready for when the kids arrived for the holidays.  

His hospital stay dragged on into December.  I dragged too, since I insisted on sleeping in a chair in his room most nights.  Once we got home, I became a 24/7 caregiver.  No time for decking the halls.  Shopping was left to at the last minute.  But somehow we added an ornament or two a day to our tree.  Somehow I made pumpkin pies and cookies, and for the first time in years, roasted a turkey and made dressing for Christmas dinner with my family. 

Somehow I didn’t have time for my usual pre-Christmas meltdown over stupid stuff.  Joy and gratitude filled my heart instead.  I could hug the people I love the most and that’s all that mattered.   

My daughter flew back to Chicago a week ago; the next day, New Year’s Eve, my husband went back into the hospital (he’s back home now).  Tomorrow my son flies back to Minneapolis. 

Cozy, warm memories of this Christmas will linger for us all.  This year it wasn’t about the presents but the presence of loved ones.  Oh, and a pretty little tree that presided over our happiness.