I had my cards read at a birthday party I attended in May. The reader asked me about my relationship with my mother and I told him that she had died nineteen years ago. “She was unstable,” I told him. “She is not unstable now,” he replied, “And you need to honor her.” He suggested planting a tree or some such thing. Going through old posts I noticed how often I mention her; the rest of this week will be a small tribute. This post was originally published May 9, 2008.
I could have also titled this “A Tale of Many Sofas” but it seemed important not to bury the lead. My mother was, indeed, crazy. Not, she always said, “Healthy people take the stairs!” (like I do) but really crazy. I’d love to put a name on it for you, but there doesn’t seem to be one. Clinically depressed with a soupcon on paranoia, or something close. I’m going to tell you now that she died sixteen years ago. I always hate it when someone asks a question about my mother and I have to say she’s dead. It’s not upsetting for me, but it’s so awkward for the inquirer. You know, because people are generally nice and mothers dying is bad.
She was aesthetically focused for sure. The picture, above, was taken in Atlanta and I have no memory of it ever being that cold there. Clearly, this was all about the look. My mother loved clothes. A lot. And shoes. She was a smidge taller than I am, close to 5’10” and she wore a size 6 shoe. Like her feet had been bound as a child. When we cleaned out her closet after she died she had beautiful shoes from size 5 to about an 8.5. I mean, a deal’s a deal.
She read a lot and she read a lot of magazines but I don’t remember any shelter magazines. She was creative and stylish, but I didn’t think house stuff was really her thing. I sort of had an impression that she got things the way she liked it then left it alone for five or ten years or so. Then I started going through pictures.
The picture with my dad, above, was taken in “the apartment.” That squarish sofa with its jazzy geometric upholstery very nearly screams 1965. It made the move in it’s original fabric to the new house.
Within a year it was recovered, maybe slip-covered in this solid, nubbyish linen. I think it’s sporting a contrast welt. (I jumped off of a couple of pillows and hit my head on this coffee table. I still wear the scar.)
This is my birthday, mid August, 1970. Same sofa.
And this floral chair, which I think might be ingrained in my subconcious, because I think I love it. But I don’t remember it or any of its predecessors. I do, however, remember receiving that Scarlett O’Hara Madame Alexander doll. She graced my shelf for years.
The sofas made the transition to the townhouse in Tulsa and stayed the rest of her life. They were recovered maybe twice in the next twenty years. The thing about being crazy is, it didn’t necessarily diminish all the other things she was. Smart, funny, creative. She was fabulously unstable, but she was also just plain fabulous. She came by her craziness naturally as her mother was crazy, and yes, I do understand the implication. I just hope someday one boy takes the time to sit down and sift through the pictures and take note. Of themselves, of my craziness or the sofas. Moms are like that. We need to be remembered.