Friday, July 17, 2009


Mom washing Dad’s glasses. He never noticed when they were dirty. She'd ask for them, clean them, and return them.

The first joke I remember sharing with Mom (10 or 12 years old?), instead of a teaching moment: drinking loudly and seeing her staring at me with wide eyes and crazy eyebrows, realizing how loud I was being. She said, “I feel like I’m sitting next to a camel who’s been in the dessert too long.” I laughed for an hour.

Before every family photo, Mom would brush my bangs all to one side with her fingers, palm up, pinky first, no matter how long I had spent centering and distributing them.

Her singing to me at bedtime: “There’s just something about that name.”

GNF day camp when I was in middle school, helping to teach 5 Day club curriculum. I introduced her as “My friend, Mom.” Dad commented on it later, because she told him how happy it made her to be introduced as my friend. I tried to clarify for her later, and she told me it was okay if I didn’t mean it. She was embarrassed Dad mentioned it. I wish I had reaffirmed it instead of “clarifying” my compliment as just trying to be witty in front of my friends.

The only time I ever heard my parents fight was behind closed doors. Mom was crying. Their voices were raised, but only enough to be heard through the bedroom door. I never knew what it was about.

I asked Mom if she and Dad were both virgins when they got married. Mom said yes, “but just barely.” She giggled and started to tell me something Dad had told her about himself when they were dating, but stopped herself. She said, “I’ll tell you when you’re older” (I was probably 14 or 15). I’ve been curious ever since.

Mom would tell me when my slip was showing under my skirt, or when my shirt was really wrinkled. As Mom, that was her job, and I appreciated her pointing out something about my appearance that I had missed, but it always made me mad. I’d feel picked on and singled out for ridicule. The hypersensitivity lives on.

When SV married his wife, Mom and Dad and I attending the wedding. A few months later, when they announced they were pregnant, I said sarcastically, “Boy, they didn’t waste any time.” Mom’s way of counteracting my criticism was simply, “the Lord bless them” as if a reward was in order for being fruitful and multiplying.

When the real estate agent showed us the house Mom and Dad bought in 1986, Ian and I locked ourselves in the shed in the back. We screamed out the windows because we were so scared, and the real estate agent thought we were being stung by bees. We were just afraid of being left behind. We played in the house after that, with a marble we found on the floor (were we that desperate to be entertained?). A houseful of fleas, left behind from the previous owners pets, were ravenous and soon covered Ian and I. The small slab of concrete outside the sliding glass door was crooked, and that’s where we sat as Mom and Dad picked fleas off of us. I wonder what the other houses were like that Mom and Dad considered. I’m amazed we moved in with an introduction like that. The big shed in the back yard was filled with junk (old toys, mattress, a syringe). We weren’t allowed to help Dad clean it out. Eventually, that’s where our goats and rabbits lived.

Before Alex was born: the back bedroom of the “new house” was the nursery and library. The crib shared space with bookshelves. Eventually, the bookshelves lined the hallways, but the thought was nice.

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