The poem was written in italicized letters and surrounded by pressed flowers and I hated it. I recognized in the vaguely menacing tone my mother's frustration with some aspects of her quiet suburban life and I worried she wistfully anticipated the day when we were both out of the house and she was free to let loose the bat-shit-crazy.
I shared these concerns with a dear friend of mine who, bless her heart, tried to commiserate. "Oh, I totally know what you mean. We used to be a total tennis family, but now, my parents are into golf! It's ridiculous! There are golf clubs and putting greens in the living room! Nuts!"
No. Nuts (when you are a teenager saddled by a myopic worldview) is a mom who stenciled the exterior of her white pick-up truck while the other mothers drove either a minivan or a Toyota Camry, who boycotted the girl scout cookie drive on the grounds that not enough of the profits were given to the actual troops, and who would rant against the misogynistic aspects of organized religion while her daughters attended a Jesuit high school and she herself worked for Catholic charities.
Recently retired and entering her second decade of empty-nesting, my mom is settling into those years where what the neighbors think matters for nothing and one can comfortably sit on the front porch in a bathrobe and slippers, read the newspaper, sip coffee, and spit fruit pits over the side of the railing ("compost for the garden") without fear of social reprisal.
While I would never call her "crazy" (nor "old", and I suspect she would be more offended by being labeled old than crazy) the poem is no longer hanging on the wall in the bathroom. And that wall is now purple. As is the hallway, the living and dining rooms, the carpets, the accent pillows, the upholstered chairs, and the exterior of the house. The couch is actually green, but lined with purple trim. My dad...well anyone who has ever met my dad has probably noticed his wide assortment of mauve sweaters, dating back to when my mom made the fortuitous observation that her husband looked "regal" (her words) in what is conveniently also her favorite color. In the front garden, every flower planted by her hand is....
And this is the sort of thing one discovers while looking for shampoo in her parent's bathroom.
Why do my parents have two plastic dinosaurs? Why do they appeared posed? Why are they posed in a soap dish? Just in case the answers to these questions weren't as interesting as my speculations, I left them alone and didn't mentioned it.
So, now that I am feeling a tad guilty for making fun of my mom, I will- and want- to include a few pictures of her being a perfectly normal and loving grandmother.
At the Portland Children's Museum
At the Oregon Zoo
Mom. You are crazy. And I love you.