My mother passed away a little over a week ago -on my birthday, to be exact (thanks, Mom)- and things over here are not going so great. I can't even nor do I want to even get into the emotional shit that me and my siblings are dealing with - wouldn't want to nick that vein publicly, but I think there's some good stuff I want to share. And I think my mom would have gotten a kick out of me showing this.
My Mom's living situation over the past year had changed pretty dramatically. She had lived in a nice in-law apartment for about 14 years, but then the owner decided to put his house on the market and she had to find another place to live. With her financial resources being what they were and her health landing her in and out of various medical/rehab facilities, she decided that for the time being, renting a furnished room in another lovely seaside town on the South Shore of Massachusetts was her best option. Because of this, the majority of her belongings had been boxed up in storage, and had been using her car as a make-shift extra closet.
My sister Kate started to go through her car yesterday and found some papers of ours she'd from over the years. Some brought her to tears, and others, like one I'd written, made her laugh so hard that she thought she'd wet her pants. "Laughter through tears. That's my favorite emotion." - Dolly Parton in her Steel Magnolias character - my mom's favorite movie.
Here's where I should probably point out in advance I was not always (intentionally) funny.
First up: I'll start with the sweet and sentimental.
Me and Mom, Christmas 1980.
She's reading a card I'd made her in school (I should point out I went to a Catholic school then).
She still held onto that card. Here it is:
As you can see, Mary still has her (perfectly normal- ok, OK! magazine?) postpartum baby pooch, and a halo, and Joseph is rocking his coat of many colors* and sandals. Pretty sure that's a sheep in the background. As you can see for yourself, no detail was spared.
(*I think I was confusing 2 completely different Josephs. They were not the same guy - Jesus's step-dad and The Coat Guy, right?)
The card's inside content. You must admit, if Catholic school teaches you one thing, it's perfect penmanship. Please recognize I was only 7 when I wrote this:
I was not a bad speller, so it would appear I was so hopped up on The Christmas Spirit (Santa, reindeer, presents, vacation, etc.) (and oh, Baby Jesus, etc.) to remember to put an "l" in "bless you". I still do this when I'm writing fast. (Here's the back of the card)
Things were not always so warm and fuzzy in our home. When you take 4 kids within 7 years of each other, add in a holiday like Christmas, mayhem often was the result. We could really (really) work our mother's last nerve.
A year or 2 later (puts me in 3rd or 4th grade), I was still a sweet, loving kid. But... I may have had the occasional (so very rare) asshole tendency. My sister Kate had gotten Santa's phone number at school. And with our parents' permission and oversight, was going to (excitedly! OMG! It's SANTA! I KNOW HIM!) call Santa. I should point out she's in 2nd or 3rd grade here. Still a believer.
For whatever reason, I saw this as an opportunity to mess with her. I honestly don't know why - I actually liked my sister. It was just something that got into my head to do and so I, along with a chum form the 'hood, went upstairs to the upstairs phone and listened in on her call. As the call connected (I don't know if it was Santa or his receptionist), I proceeded to...God, I was such a dick....disconnect the call.
As you can imagine, there was ...an exchange between the 2 of us after she realized what a little bitch I'd been. We were loud. Words were hurled like Chinese stars. I'm sure it wasn't long before it took on a Animal Kingdom episode likeness. Therefore, it didn't take long for my Mom to be all "Fuck This" level of exasperated, made us write our first composition (of a couple more to follow over the years) on what was "The Spirit of Christmas".
She saved this gem, too.
As you can see from the writing (actual font size and use of exclamation points) this is clearly "All Filler, No Killer." My Mom had demanded a 2 page report. You can see where my 8-9 year old self is really reaching to come up with something on the subject.The "What the Christmas Spirt"?. I'm reading that now like "what the...Christmas Spirit?" like I'm trying not to swear. Heh.
Transcribing Page One's best parts:
Christmas is giving things to one another.
There are surprises and secrets!
There is no pouting and you get deceration up and your Christmas tree up.
And you decerate T-H-A-T! (nice filler, little me)
And you see SNOW! (I distinctly remember writing that line, and using the extra large lettering. At that point, I was already running out of gas with this assignment.)
Page Two: (Finally getting to the meat as to why I am writing this in the first place. Also note my complete and utter disregard for the left hand margin. I really had nothing left in the tank):
Page Two's MVP:
And you don't push the button on your sister when she's trying to call St. Nick. No yelling either! (why the hell I kept referring to him as "St. Nick", I'll never know. I never called him that, I swear. Maybe I was going for a religious vibe, since I knew my mom liked church?)
Page Two's Runner Ups (all spelling is original):
No hitting either. You never be bad. (going to guess things took a turn for the physical between me and Kate? I told you we were a bunch of animals.)
Your sopose to be happy and not sad.
You get sometimes alot of presents or a little
But most importent you get love. (way to bring it home, little me)
And people dress like Santa Claus. So that's the Christmas Spirt. THE END. (my "Big Finish". Apparently.)
(Part II's conclusion to follow with what my 13 year-old self had to say on the matter. Also known as "Why My Sister Wet Her Pants Yesterday")