My mother has moved in with me. It seems like only yesterday that we were just like this, her in the drivers seat, her being the one to keep me steady on my feet, her keeping me balanced so that I didn't go careening off into the dark night, bad decisions, high fevers, or swampy creeks.
Now I'm the one that is trying to keep things balanced. Keeping them from tipping over. We are having such a great time. Really, we are. You laugh? You doubt it? I can see why. There are days that I stomp through the house exhasperated by her every sigh or comment. Days where I turn fourteen and want to go to room and slam the door. But my door doesn't slam because its just one more thing I have to fix in this house so there's no point. Instead, we find something we can agree on to watch or we tell old stories and laugh. Thank God she has a sense of humor. Most days I have mine. She follows me around the house with lipstick trying to get me to just "put a little color on" and reminds me to use lotion on my face. A lot. Like every time she looks at my face. She is also the Queen of the List. There is always a list of things we need. As soon as I leave for the store a new list has begun. Daily trips to the store are a bizarre part of my family history. It's as if we can only buy one thing a day. Or three. But never all of the things. When I was in high school and was sent to the store that was fine because Cousin Deb was with me and we always took the really, really long way which means we did everything we wanted to between the house and the store. Now the store is a chore. Particularly when someone is following your around the house with a plastic bag that has the name of a particular brand of three ply double roll extra size super soft paper with no truck tracks in the middle of it so that you can "READ every word so you get it exactly right." This is why I studied literature. I just know it. It's come to this.
But I get it. The little things matter when they seem to be the only things you might possibly have control over. The pressures of giving up your home after fifty years, making a move to the mountains after being a flatlander all your life (her words) and giving up so many shades of independence are challenging in every way. Trying to still find things when many are still in storage, reaching for the light in the middle of the night and realizing it's in the wrong place. That everything is in the wrong place. Mourning an old house like a family member. Because it was such a part of the family for so many years. The shelter for every tropical storm and hurricane. That little brick house held every family member far and wide while the storms raged outside. It was our lifeboat and our arc. Through the literal Florida storms and from life's storms. When grandparents grew sick and elderly and moved in with us. When there were car wrecks and bad news. The death of pets. Of bad grades. Broken hearts. Celebrations. Birthdays. It was all right there and my mother was the captain of that ship. Period. My Daddy was in the Army and away much of the time until he retired. Then he came home and took his place without ever removing her from hers.
Now so many things fall to me. Just cause this is the way that life shook out. It has a way of doing that. Taking a road we didn't expect but then that is life. And as family we make the best of it. As a writer I empathize with my mother making a change so significant we don't discuss it too much. The decision to let go of the car keys - one of the hardest of a lifetime. My mother's parents never owned a car, never drove. If I felt the day I had my own set of keys and eventually my own set of wheels represented freedom - for her that had to be a kind of rising up and driving out that came from a much deeper place. It represented more than sixteen year old I gotta be me. It represented a rise out of poverty, a way to have a job and keep a job, a success that meant she could buy a little house, build a family, have a little girl that would ride shotgun some day.
And, I did. Those were glorious times. My mother finally bought the car of her dreams. A big Oldsmobile convertible. White with red leather interior. A dream machine. She drove with confidence behind the wheel wearing scarves over her hair and streaming behind her, cat eye sunglasses. She was amazing, looked like a movie star. Riding in that front seat beside her, the sun shinning down, the radio playing, I knew that Mom was in control, that we were traveling down that road, and that all was well with our world.
Now, a blink of an eye later, I'm behind the wheel. She's riding shotgun. And I can only pray that I will exude just a little of that air of confidence she possessed. The kind where she can truly I believe that it's okay. In spite of her home being shifted beneath her feet, her keys having slipped away. That in spite of it all - all is well with the world. That the road before us is a long one. To trust me enough that I do know the way. That life is still a great adventure. We just have to take it one day, one moment at a time.
Greetings and Good Tidings!
Wanted to share a few mental snapshot thoughts, little flashes that come roll me as I rise and walk through the day. Thank you for following, for subscribing to newsletters, for hanging in here with me on this side of the planet even when it seemed I'd hung up a sign that said, Gone Underground and then disappeared. Well, I did. Thought I'd surface now and stay for awhile. Hang around and sit down. Put my feet up and live this thing called my life. How about you? What you doing this year?
It's a rainy day on the hill I call my home. The fog rises but never clears. Today I live in a cloud. Today I don't mind. It's the time of year where fog and rain bring a little thing known as WARM. Later this week I will see clearly in the sunshine so bright I'll have to wear shades but that will be paired with a coat. I don't own a winter coat right now. Except for my inherited beaver. I wear it sometimes because it is the warmest thing I own and it is soft and I thank the Beavers and God for making furry creatures and my Aunt who owned it once upon a time and my cousin for blessing me with it when she passed so that on freezing days this Florida girl who makes her home in Tennessee doesn't catch pnemonia and die. The "and die" part is a permanent part of my language from my Grandmother who warned us kids about all manner of things that we should be wary of. Don't go down by the creek or the current will get you and you will get pulled in - and die. Don't play in the field or you will get snake bit - and die. Don't go out there without your coat or you will get pnemonia - and die. It's the song of my people. Death is at the doorstep. Defy it. Work hard. Be determined. Set your face like flint to the thing before you and take it down one step, one nail, one board, one broken heart at a time. Survive because you are born from the blood of survivors.
All that great DNA and some days I just get overwhelmed by laundry.
The fog rolls and falls between the naked tree limbs, mist and entity, tangible grey beauty.
Moved Mama in with me. This is a working story in progress. Yelling at Big Dog to shut up because he barks into eternity and it is LOUD and he couldn't care less if I yell shut up because he knows I love him and I'm rolling his medicine in Roast Beast and he doesn't care what I say because he will keep barking, barking, barking until the cows can't stand it. Pack their udders and move to the city just to get some peace and quiet.
Mom: "Don't tell me to shut up! I'm not going to shut up!"
Me: Was talking to the dog Mom. Not you. Not telling you to shut up. It wouldn't do any more good than telling him.
Me to little dog Duncan that came with Mom: - GET up, get up off that cushion.
ME: turning to Mom - What are you doing? Where are you going?
MOM: You told me to get up.
Me: I was talking to the DOG!
We are off to a great adventure. Stay tuned.
IN THE WORKS
On the forefront - 2017 is bringing in great things.
GREAT NEWS! The audio book for Saints in Limbo release. So excited about this project and love this story. Very befitting for the year as it is Mom's favorite of all my novels. I will be doing the reading personally so hope you love it.
FINALLY - Confessions of An American Mystic: Stories of Faith, Fiction, and Faraway Places - actually gets complated this month and goes to the sweet hands of the impossibly talented Adrienne Ingrum from Jericho Books/Hachette. The subtitle is going through all the stages subtitles do - might throw it to you for a mastermind vote :)
Taking a special look back this week at some of my favorite books from 2016 and the ones that I have chosen to kick off 2017. Watch for the post.
An amazing journey lies ahead this year. Within and without. Please stay close as we travel together on this great road trip we call life. And, hang on tight 'cause I hear freedom calling, the scent of green chilis roasting in the air and west coast waves calling. It's going to be a wild ride!
Thanks so much for reading, liking and sharing with friends.