I went home on Sunday to visit my dad (he’s doing great!) and discovered our family room in complete disarray. (Do you call it a family room? A den? It’s the big room where we sit on couches and read and there’s a fireplace and my dad watches Everybody Loves Raymond in his recliner. We always referred to it as the FAMILY ROOM for this reason, I guess. Cozy fire, cup of tea, Patricia Heaton screeching at Ray Romano, etc.)
THE PAINTERS ARE COMING TOMORROW! my mom exclaimed, running around getting ready for work. AND I NEED YOUR HELP!
She had pulled most of the books off the bookshelves creating separate piles for garbage and recycling and donating and keeping. She needed me and my sister to go through the stacks, make sure we didn’t want to keep any of the garbage and then move every item into the dining room so the painters could come in and start priming the walls.
We won’t get into the fact that my mom decided early in the summer to have every room in the house painted. (“Because your dad’s in a wheelchair and he won’t get in the way!”)
Okay, fine. We will get into that fact right now.
She asked me for my sage painting advice which is Funny Thing About My Mom #0971254. She trusts me and often thinks I have good ideas because I’m young and hip and know what’s going on (BWA HA?) but then when I suggest something, like paint colors or a skirt she should buy, she gets scared that it will suck so she ultimately ignores what I say and sticks with her original idea.
I chose to ignore that I knew this, so I carefully selected (with the help of my sister) the most perfect paint colors in the entire universe. Paint colors that would illuminate our house with warmth and graciousness and sophistication. And naturally, my mother said YES GREAT BEAUTIFUL and then ripped up all our ideas and flushed them down the toilet.
My mother, you see, likes all things COLOR. BRIGHT BRIGHT COLOR! Rita likes PASTELS! And she loves glitter on Hallmark cards! She likes prisms! And rainbows! And anything that sparkles! Which is great! Except when you’re painting the rooms of a house. Back in the 90′s, she painted our living room a bright pink and she was so proud of it until our dear friend Father Donald walked in and said he couldn’t decide if he felt like he was at a tacky funeral parlor or if he felt like he was just standing inside someone’s mouth.
(The pink was later replaced.)
So naturally, even after doling out suggestions, my mom went ahead and chose her own colors anyway. Oh! You wanted to paint the upstairs bathroom gray? GRAY IS DEPRESSING. PERIWINKLE IT IS! A deep eggplant for the guest room? YUCK! TOO DARK! I painted it LAVENDAR! It looks just like EASTER!
I guess my taste in paint is less I Live In Perpetual Springtime With All The Saints in Glory and more Melancholic Brooding While I Sit On The Couch and Read Hemingway.
The point of this story is that the painters were coming to finish the final room, our family room, which I had initially wanted to paint a lovely deep navy blue. It’s not going to happen as my parents are fearful of dark colors and good taste so we finally settled on a lighter blue gray which I actually like though I have no expectation when I go home next week that that’s what will be on the walls. I actually fully expect to walk into the family room and find that my mother discounted the blue altogether and had the walls painted like this:
We had to go through her books.
And the rest of the crap on the bookshelves.
And let me tell you, we have not really gone through these bookshelves or the literature stacked on them in about twenty years. Maybe longer. My sister and I found a book of baby names published in 1956 and even better, the names that were circled in pencil included “Sheba”, “Clifford” and “Gerard.”
We found the usual stuff – beautifully leather bound classics that no one has ever read, the entire Chronicles of Narnia, a few Nicholas Sparks books my sister reads with a box of tissues. But nothing prepared us for the amount of religious books and pamphlets and journals from various retreats and weekend talks and study. I mean, my mom is into it, we know this. But I had no idea just how much she had accumulated and how AMAZING some of the stuff we found was.
She wasn’t home at the time and I imagine she would’ve been screaming STOP BEING BLASPHEMOUS from the kitchen as I pulled book after book off the shelf with some variation of God in the title.
She wasn’t there though.
So my sister and my dad and I were left to revel in the amazingness of my mom’s family room bookshelf.
I reached a point where I couldn’t quite keep it to myself anymore so I asked The Cripple (my dad) to make himself useful and start scanning.
And told me to feel free to take whatever I wanted back to the city for some light subway reading.
Ladies and Gentlemen, I now present to you:
STUFF I FOUND ON MY MOM’S BOOKSHELF.
by Laura Elizabeth, age 27.2
This was the cover of a small pamphlet, not an entire book. But it’s still gold. I was not aware that God had a fingerprint. Turns out? He does. When He touches you, He leaves a mark. This is helpful to know in case God ever commits a crime.
I’m not a wife but I’m going to take this knowledge with me into the future should I ever marry. ALL YOU ENGAGED GIRLS OUT THERE – PLEASE TAKE NOTE because I’ve been missing the point the entire time. The point is: bring a man with feathered hair flowers on a hammock. HOW COULD I HAVE MISSED THIS?? I also enjoy the asterisk in the title.
This title is my favorite. Just because. Come on, A Rose For Nana? I don’t even know what to think about this. Especially because I’ve never called either of my grandmothers “Nana” so this strikes me as particularly hilarious. But if I had a Nana, I would bring her a rose. THERE. I SAID IT.
Another pamphlet cover. And this is a valid question. Thing is…I just find it awfully specific. A general “after you die” is sort of open-ended and is definitely something to ponder. Do we go to heaven? Do we go to purgatory? Are we reincarnated? These are life/death questions to sit with.
But…5 minutes after I die? That is so intense that it’s making the Straight A Student in me panic. FIVE MINUTES? IS THIS SOME KIND OF TEST? I DON’T KNOW THE ANSWER. I’m freaking out over here. NO ONE TOLD ME THIS INFORMATION! And even worse, when I finally get the answer, I’LL ALREADY BE DEAD so I can’t even BLOG ABOUT IT.
When my mom came home from work, I was all OH DID WE FIND SOME GOODIES WHILE YOU WERE GONE. The Cripple even scanned them for me!
And she threw up her hands and said OH NO. ARE YOU GOING TO PUT THIS ON THE INTERNET?
And I said, Mom, it is my DUTY to put this stuff on the internet and you can’t be mad at me because I spent the afternoon cleaning out the entire family room AND YOU HAVE A LOT OF CRAP. Nobody needs 1,000 copies of old Prevention magazines.
She started sifting through the bags of recycling and garbage and accused me of throwing out stuff she actually wanted. I said that absolutely wasn’t possible, there is no way she needs to keep the books I put in the garbage pile. I saved the baby name book because I feel like Gerard could really come in handy one day. But other than that, the rest of the stuff is super old and outdated and even though she says she will, she is never going to read them again.
“THAT IS NOT TRUE!” she protested, clutching a copy of “Born Again Catholic” to her chest. “I NEED THIS STUFF.”
Which brings me to the final book in this series, a book that was on her shelf but perhaps she has not read yet.
MOM, WE ARE HERE TO HELP YOU. LET US BE YOUR SUPPORT SYSTEM. THE FIRST STEP IS ADMITTING YOU HAVE A PROBLEM. FATHER LEO BOOTH SAYS SO.