My mother drew caricatures of all her mother’s children, and the drawings were kept in grandmother’s living room for twenty years.
When grandmother died, she left everything to me, including the remaining portraits. One had gone missing, and one had been torn to pieces by my uncle in one of the rages he used to have before he was institutionalized. (He might have continued to have rages, but I certainly was never told.) So, I gave two of my aunts their portraits, even though it pained me to part with my mother’s work, and since I have no contact with my aunts any longer, I expect I shall never see those pictures again, and I kept the last two–the one of my other uncle, who died in a car accident before I was born, and the one of my mother.
In this drawing she did of herself, I’m at her feet along with our favorite dog, Jill. The blank canvas behind her eventually became, in real life, a painting inspired by Middle Earth. That’s what I believe anyway, though the painting no longer exists and I have no proof–although one of the books in the picture is by Tolkien and she had a thing for dragons.
If my mother were alive today, I think she would blog. She’d have a free one at first, and then she would quickly grow frustrated with its limitations and teach herself code. Maybe take a class if she had the money. She’d ask my permission before reading my blog, and probably even suggest that she shouldn’t read it at all so that I could feel free to write whatever I wanted. She tended to worry that she was cramping my style. When I was in high school, she’d offer to drop me off at school functions (I lived with my dad, but she still carted me around) several blocks away. I’d have to reassure her that I was so spectacularly uncool, that being seen with my mother would make no difference whatsoever.
My mother like hoop earrings, fuzzy bathrobes, and large cups of coffee. She kept all her art supplies on the stove, which worked out because she spent her tiny paycheck on paints, pencils, canvas and paper, but not food. In her fridge she kept carrots, apples, and lettuce. Sometimes grapes. In her cupboard she kept melba toast and coffee. If she actually wanted to eat she went to her mother’s house or Wendy’s.
She made me laugh by imitating Tattoo from Fantasy Island. She loved Miami Vice, though she suspected if she had to watch it on anything other than ten-inch, black & white television, she’d change her mind. Because of her mother’s complicated relationship with reality, my mother told the truth no matter what. I didn’t always appreciate this.
She walked out of a job once because the boss changed his mind about letting her leave early–she’d promised to come see me in a school play. Her vocabulary was immense, and she always beat me at Scrabble. At least I always beat her at Clue.
She gave unorthodox advice–compared to the other mothers I knew anyway. She told me that men don’t confuse love and sex and neither should I. She said that the problem with waiting until marriage to have sex was that you could easily and stupidly confuse lust with love.
I wish I could’ve taken her to see Peter Jackson’s Lord of the Rings. Orlando she would’ve ignored. Viggo, on the the other hand…
Happy Mother’s Day.