vendredi 15 mai 2009


Sally, my mom, on March 17 at Le Pichet. We were celebrating the birthdays of two of her daughters (and two of my sisters), Janie (50) and Carolyn (40), born ten years apart on St. Patrick's Day.

Jo, Walt's mom, at the December 26, 2008 Christmas celebration with Walt's family. She's holding Eli, her great grandson.

Mother's Day is such a bullshit holiday, a manufactured Hallmark moment that I love to opt out of. This does not mean I don't appreciate my mother or motherhood in general. Nor do I wish to belittle motherhood as an activity. But the idea of one special day to honor mothers (or fathers or grandmothers or grandfathers) has always struck me as silly.

We did the obligatory thing last Sunday, showing up at my mom's house for what turned out to be a very late brunch, and then going almost directly to Anthony's Home Port in Des Moines for a mother's day dinner with Walt's mom, his brother Bruce and Bruce's wife Patty. So Sunday really was Mother's Day, in the sense that we spent the whole day driving to, driving from and taking part in these events. The only diversion was the search for Pushkin, who mysteriously disappeared just before we had to leave for event number one. Speaking of motherhood, she is in heat and has not been spayed, so we worried she might have gotten outside for some brief sexual encounter with a stranger. We left for my mom's at 1 pm and came back to look for her at 5 pm, before dashing out to be at the restaurant by 6 pm. We looked and looked, called and called. Pushy! Where are you? Walt was outside when I decided for no reason to open the bottom drawer of our dresser, where I keep my sweaters. Pushkin reared her head up like a coiled snake. She had just spent four hours in a drawer, unable to sit up. Being Pushkin, and being very blasé about everything, she didn't leap out of the drawer. She looked around, stretched a bit and then delicately stepped out, like a lady descending from a horse-drawn carriage.

My mom's brunch was low-key and centered around getting us to take all the stuff that she has been accumulating for the last 75 years or so. She has everything her six kids left behind, everything that my dad left behind, everything that her parents left behind, everything that my uncle left behind... everything. She has kept every thing any of us has ever written or drawn, plus every candy wrapper and comic book we ever neglected to throw or put away. She had prepared a basket for me, containing the few letters I wrote from China and France, plus postcards from every place I ever went for a vacation. Not to mention photos of me and of people I used to love or whom I have befriended in faraway places over the years. My mother has the most amazing jumble of photos imaginable. She is pretty disorganized and a little ditzy, so she has triplicates and quadruplicates of many photos. She has albums she has started on a theme and not finished. She has albums that started on one theme but ended up in a very different place. If you look closely, you can see where and sometimes why she went off on that tangent. The photos and all the rest are up for grabs now because she's getting married in June and wants to erase us from her life. I'm kidding! I think it is great that she is abandoning us to marry some guy who has six grown children of his own. I am truly joking. About feeling abandoned. My mother has finally found the man of her dreams and he lives in a large but very neat condo in Magnolia. It is time for her to finally get rid of all the junk she has been stockpiling for years. Record albums, books, bibelots, candles (I have never seen so many never used candles in my life, stuck in every nook and cranny). I found a ball gown that belonged to my mom's Aunt Viva, who would be about 120 if she were alive. I took the gown. You never know. They might do a remake of the Shirley Temple movies and ask me to be an extra. I took a cool dress that my grandmother bought at "Best's", the precursor to Nordstrom's. It was a foregone conclusion that all my dad's books were mine if I wanted them. I had already stolen a dozen over the years -- and always denied it -- so it was time to give me the whole collection.

All in all, my mom got what she wanted for Mother's Day: a whole crew whose main mission was to help her sell her house and move on. Go Mom!

To be continued for Jo Cougan, who deserves her very own post.