I’ve been re-doing a couple of rooms in my house that have looked exactly the same for about 15-20 years. (For those who don’t know, I live in the house I was raised in as a kid…and right now is the “remodeling” stage, which will hopefully make it look less like my parents’ place, and more like MINE.) I’ve been tearing out wallpaper and carpeting this weekend. It’s been a lot of work, but it’s starting to come together. (And if the garbage company was at ALL cooperative, it’d be going much more quickly.) I’ve been having an ongoing conversation with my mother as I’ve been doing this work. That’s weird. She’s been dead for about 14 years.
If it’s any consolation, I’m not hearing her replies to the things I’ve been saying. I’m not nuts–at least I don’t think I am. It’s just that I’m tearing up the design-scheme she’d created. My dad probably thinks he had some input into it…but he didn’t really. I’m pretty sure he wouldn’t have chosen the flowery wallpaper or the southwestern theme. In fact, I’m pretty sure mom did a lot of that type of work when he was out of town–if memory serves. I’m sure he knew she was doing SOMETHING, but I doubt that he had any idea of what it would look like. Mom just did that stuff–enlisting my brother and I as unwitting help, of course (as well as my Grandma, on occasion).
My conversation with my mother over the past few days hasn’t been the teary-eyed crap you’re supposed to say…nothing like that. There’s been no “Sorry I’m ripping out your wallpaper, Mom.” No, “I know you always liked this picture, Mom…I’ll keep it safe for you.” None of that stuff… Mostly, it’s been stuff like this:
“Ugh…why’d you do THAT, Mom?!?”
“Really? Pink that just WON’T cover-over with a single primer-coat? Thanks a lot for THAT, Mom!”
“Seriously…did you even READ the instructions on hanging the wallpaper, Mom?”
“These are the worst freaking blinds I’ve ever seen, I don’t know what you were thinking.”
“Hey Mom, I found that vase we broke.”
…stuff like that…
Being that I like to remember the dead as they were (and not the idealized version they become at the wake), I’d like to think she’s yelling at me from beyond the grave, telling me I’m moving too slowly, and that I should be more careful not to get paint on the ceiling. I’d like to think she’s pissed about the vase and that she hates that I’ve gone with the colour of brown I’m using in the dining room–that she thinks it’s depressing or something. …and I’d like to think she’s said one of her all-time best criticisms of my housekeeping once or twice… “If the health department came by right now, this place would be condemned!” (She said that to me once…I think it was about my room.)
Anything less and I’ve failed.