Wednesday, May 05, 2010


It wasn't until after my parents passed away, one in August, the other in April, interchangeable dates because it really is irrelevant who joined their loved ones first, which one taught me the most about the important ritual of death, that I discovered things about them I wish I had known before they passed away so we could have spent endless hours talking about their feelings.  I am big into feelings.  I love to find out how someone felt about an event or even what someone might feel about the orange they ate for lunch.  I know not everyone is as willing to share their emotions and feelings as much as I am willing to listen to them, digest them, internalize them, and make them a part of myself.  

Mom grew up very poor.  At least financially poor.  She had a loving family, and now, reading the hidden volumes of stories she had typed up and stored away in a place so secure that I have just found them, two years after their deaths, I find myself clapping my hands in glee, crying with her, crying for her, or just smiling and gazing off into the field, trying to adjust to this woman's life.

It is rather a shame, I think, that the time we learn the most from our parents is when they are dying or after they are gone, but then it is almost as satisfying as a beautiful fictional story that sucks you in, the kind that keeps you riveted, wondering what is going to happen next, the sort of story that allows you to assign your own emotions and scenery.  Two people reading the same book probably never see the color of the river described in a story, as what each imagines in the heart and mind.

It was said to me that Mom grew up in cold, drafty homes and had nothing extra, and her dream was to always have a pink bedroom.  As a grown woman with the taste of pink fresh in her mind, she achieved her pink room.  

We had not been down to see my folks for awhile, but were anxious to see the paint job they had had done for themselves.  I barely ever remembered them hiring anything done, so my expectations were very high.  When we walked in, Mom stood in front of her bedroom door and made me close my eyes, playing a child's game, and she led me into the room she shared with my dad.  I could smell the fresh paint, and her excitement was infectious.  When she told me to lower my hands and look, I gasped!  I did not mean to gasp out loud, but the pink of that room was about the pinkest of pinks I had ever seen, the walls a dark rose color and all the doors and trim painted a "quieter" pink, if there is any such thing as a quiet pink.  The new bedspread was proudly displayed on the bed, full of large pink and purple flowers in the pattern, the curtains were screaming with mauves and pinks.  

I laughed because there just was nothing else to do.  I laughed and grabbed my old mother and spun her around and said, "Oh, my God, Mom!  This is...beautiful!"  

I glanced over her shoulder.  When had she gotten so small?  When I glanced over, I saw my dad rolling his eyes because this was his room, too, and I could only imagine what he thought.  Not once, though, did I hear him make mention of the hot pink bedroom that he shared with her for another few years before they passed away.

Last weekend, my brother and I hired painters.  "The first thing that has to go," my brother told the supervisor, is this, and he flung the bedroom door open.  The painter laughed and said, "I did this for her.  She was sure proud of that pink, and I kept wondering what your dad was thinking as that paint went on!"  

Now, it is up to the two of us to sell the house and try to put a little money in our own retirement accounts because we are, fortunately, or unfortunately, depending on your attitude about death, next.  We know that there are few people who would ever purchase the house when the first thing they saw was that glowing pink bedroom, so the covering should be starting any day now.  

Isn't it odd that what is a precious memory for a few is a sign of mind-numbing idiocy to another?  

Let the work begin, before I break down and rush in and make them stop!  "Leave it, leave it," I would be yelling, because I am one of the few.  


California Girl said...

Sweet memory and I can practically channel what you feel. My mother also loved pink. When Dad purchased our adorable ranch home in SoCal 1959, it was a cheerful yellow with white trim. Soon as she could, she had it painted pink with white trim. It was a pale pink, nothing shocking, but still...She painted the living room and dining room pink too. This was the era of early American furniture and she had it mixed with antiques she'd pick up here and there. Everyone loved our home, despite the pink. When I hit my teens, she had it all re-done in deep creamy white tinged with green and thick soft ivy toned carpet. It was pretty. I liked it better than the pink.

However, she wore alot of pink and it suited her. I now wear pink myself...from time to time.

Brian Miller said...

what a beautiful and endearing tale...i can see the room and her smiles while she was there...hooray for your dad for letting her. happy tt!

Tracy said...

Aw, I really enjoyed this. The pink room was where she took me and let me choose a quilt she had made when I was helping you after back surgery.

Magpie said...

What wonderfully touching memories. I love that your dad supported her in her dream and that you found writings to continue your connection with her and expand your understand of who she was.

Jingle said...

Happy Thursday!
How are you?
lovely post here.

Gladys said...

What a wonderful story. You are absolutely right about finding out more about your parents after they have passed. It is amazing to look at your parents through other peoples eyes.

Baino said...

Gorgeous post. I'm trying to document as much as I can on a secret blog for my kids although we have few secrets so there won't be many surprised. And I know EXACTLY how you feel painting over the room. My brother moved next door into my Dad's hou7se when he died and stripped everything, everything. Not a single reminder that it was ever their house other than the brass toilet roll holder in one of the loos. It made me sad that he'd not preserved any essence of my parents. (Haha your father must have been a very tolerant man!)

PattiKen said...

I love this. And I am so jealous! My mother died when I was nine. I really didn't know her at all. How wonderful that you have these memories (and especially the stories she left behind), and that you know that they are wonderful.

My post for Pink, close to my heart, is up here.