Mother’s Little Helper

The experience of mucking out the garage qualified me to help my friend, Marcia, with the process of sorting through the cavernous workshop her father had built 30 years before his death. Her 87-year old mother, Doris, had sold the property and was being forced to downsize.

I arrived on a Saturday morning to find Doris sitting on a plastic molded chair in the middle of a warehouse of boxes, lumber, furniture, tools, model airplanes, and building materials. In front of her was an open box from which she pulled a wrapped object.

Marcia was chucking cardboard, lumber, sheets of plastic, and various whatnot outside the open roll top doors while her husband, Jerry, sorted and stacked.

“Look at this,” Doris said, holding a clear glass serving bowl.bowl

Marcia whispered, “She admires everything she unwraps. This is going to take forever.” Louder, she said, “What do you want to do with it, Mother? Keep it or put it in the garage sale?”

“I certainly don’t want to give it away,” Doris said. “This is crystal.”

I silently lusted after the bowl. I have an obsession for bowls and chairs. If left untethered, my house would be filled with them.

Doris pondered the bowl’s beauty for a few moments before holding it out to me. “Would you like it?”

I felt guilty—as if by telepathy I’d hypnotized her into the offering. I thanked her and snatched it away before she could change her mind.

Before I continue, I must make a disclaimer similar to the one I was forced into when I had teenagers. Until I was a parent of that age group, I judged others by the behavior of their teens. After my kids became that age, I had to mix a bitter cocktail of my ignorant words and chug it, thus ending those days of judgment.

Current Disclaimer: A person who finds 85 cans of paint hoarded in her garage cannot judge the contents of another person’s storage area.

That being said, here are some of the interesting things Doris discovered in her boxes:

Ten three-ring binders holding sheets of poetry. Over several decades, whenever she found a poem she liked, she’d type it and store it in a binder. She rarely read the poems again. She took comfort in knowing she had them saved for posterity.

Four large recipe boxes filled with 3×5 cards of typed recipes. The largest box was marked, Recipes I Haven’t Tried Yet.

Two boxes labeled Cat Books. She held up one book and said, “If anyone gets a new cat or dog, I have a book to help with names.” The title: Dog and Cat Names. (Fun fact: her cat’s name is Kitty.)hangersclose

Dozens of wire hangers embellished with crochet. Doris admitted she has far more of these than she had clothes to hang them on, but she was unwilling to part with a single one.

The best find of the day was when Doris opened a box containing at least 15 spiral notebooks. She placed her fingertips to her lips and giggled. I was intrigued. What had this pure, dearest of ladies uncovered to embarrass her?

We’d already discovered a 1939 edition of “Marriage and Sex” that she’d purchased shortly before her marriage. This hadn’t raised a blush to her cheeks.

Marcia and I anxiously looked over her shoulder as she opened one of the notebooks. There, in perfect penmanship, on narrow line after line, margin to margin, front and back of each page was—

notebook“When you kids were young, I started copying the Bible.” She giggled and reddened, her darkest secret revealed.

Marcia howled with laughter. “I didn’t know you were doing that.”

“She didn’t drink or smoke,” I said. “What else was she supposed to do to stay sane with three kids running around?”

closeupShe made it to II Samuel and by the looks of it (15 notebooks) it took her a very long time.

Young mothers, take note. There are other ways to relax while raising young children besides sucking vodka through the straw of a juice box (“No, honey, the Berry Blast is mine; you get the strawberry.”), smoking pot behind a bush in the back yard, or saying you’re taking a vitamin when it’s really the dog’s pain medication.

Buy some spiral notebooks and start copying the Bible. It worked for Doris.

13 thoughts on “Mother’s Little Helper

  1. One more reason why I knew we were kindred spirits; bowls. I love them. If I had it my way, my cupboards would only be filled with bowls. The more scalloped, unique colored, and vintage, the better. I saw some scalloped Pyrex bowls on Pinterest and until I own them (they are vintage, so odds are stacked against me), my heart might not ever be complete.

    • Oh no! I’m not sure if I should thank you or hate you!
      Oh noooooooooooooooo!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
      My children will know who to blame when they eventually have to force me to downsize.

  2. Damn, Kate! My eye with conjunctivitis had just stopped watering and then I read this piece! I laughed so hard that I have to reapply my eye drop. Worth it though. Don’t they say laughter is the best medicine?

    Thanks for the post!

  3. Okay, Dear Miss Kate…now that I have the time to catch up from all my other misadventures I am sooo glad that I spent a chunk of it reading your latest entries. I had not read the “Doris” entry……oh my gosh….am I ever so glad to not have missed it!!!!!!!

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