This photo of Bob’s is one of my favorites, because I love the green hills with the backdrop of the California coastline. My mother, who is the topic of this week’s blog, dearly loved greenery. She never got used to the fact that she lived in Southern California, not wet Washington. Tacoma was always in her heart, if not under her feet.
HELLO, IT’S ME: GOOD THINGS ALWAYS HAPPEN WHEN IT RAINS
Last Monday was Memorial Day. I did the usual honoring of the all the male members of my family who served in the wars. I also thought a lot about my mother, her private battles. She never got much recognition for the heroic efforts on her part to raise two children as a single mother after three marriages. She was already battle-scarred and wasn’t emotionally or economically prepared to raise my older brother and me on her own. Fortunately, her parents let us move into their home. I was six at the time.
The house had lots of idiosyncrasies. The electricity worked in strange ways. The plumbing had its own style and rhythm. I am sure the attic was haunted, if not by spirits, then by old dusty memories. I didn’t care. It was home. It was a relatively safe place to live. My mother must have thought so, too. She died in that house, in her favorite chair, during the early morning hours of October 2006.
Mom had lived in a few other places in Monrovia, but she came back home to take care of Grandpa when he was ill. She moved back in permanently to help Grandma, until my grandmother passed away at the age of 92. I would call Mom every day, several times a day. The conversation always began the same way: “Hello, it’s me.” It was a comfort for me to be able to say that without her ever wondering who “me” was. Her mind remained sharp until the day she died, a major blessing these days.
My mom was a lady (she liked that word) of contradictions. She always wore a dress, but deserved the name “mechanical mama” for times when she would try to fix things herself. I remember her crawling under the car on a desert road, banging away trying to fix “vapor lock”. I still don’t even know what that is. She was churchgoing, but believed in ideas that were definitely not mainstream.
She liked to tell me about the happiest time in her life, when she lived in a tent by a stream in a Washington forest. She was a little girl then during the Great Depression. Grandpa would fish every day. Sometimes, they ate fish for every meal. Nobody complained and Grandma would add something to change the flavors. Mom told me the best part was playing in the forest with the fairies. I think it was a great disappointment to her that I never saw them. My life is not over yet, and I still keep an open eye and mind.
Unlike others who live in Southern California, I am happiest when it is a gray day and raining. I inherited that from my mother. One of Mom’s favorite sayings was, “Good things always happen when it rains.” We walked for miles in the rain when I was young. I miss that. I could still do it, but I think about the mess of getting wet. I need to revive the part of me that could care less about being muddy. Mud washes off. The joys of rambling in the rain linger in the mind. Those joys are the “good things.”