Running into the room like a five-year-old to the tree on Christmas morning…
“Oh! Wonderful! It’s you! I thought I would never see you again! You’re the one I love! (jumping), love, love, love! You are my favorite person in the world! (jumping urgently) Can I lick your face? Taste the back of your mouth? I love you more than anything! More than cat turds! I will love only you…forever!”
This from Hugh Maverick Haller, he who refuses to join the party here.
Find The Bitch tasty? Here’s a few more…
Mom was number one in Dad’s world, his law practice at Beer, Richards, and Haller, number two. I believe that having kids was about number 27 on dad’s priority list, just after “pulling the crabgrass”. Dad had kids because he was crazy about Mom and that’s just what happens. There were four of us and Mom was the boss. Dad’s job was to go to work, earn the money and little else. He filled his evenings with Lawrence Welk, cheddar cheese sandwiches, and Cokes. Never really eating anything at dinner, he just sat at the head of the table, smoking one cigarette after another, drinking a Coke, watching the Lazy Susan turn endlessly clockwise and counterclockwise, and trying to wind down from the pressure cooker that was New York City. My siblings, Judy, Sue, and Kenny, ate, as did Mom and I. Mom always made “a nice dinner”, a key to success in life according to her. Dad was exempt from Mom’s food rules though.
I have a theory that most of us spend the first half of our lives acquiring two of everything God ever created and the second half trying to get rid of that stuff. Generally, the kids don’t want it. They want to collect their own junk. We downsized from the big house to our smallest rental over five years ago, and couldn’t be happier. Rather than having an acre of mature oaks surrounded by huge, multicolored Azaleas, beautiful, but labor intensive, our lawn now is the size of a small swimming pool…without water, filled in and topped with weeds. It takes me about 10 minutes to mow and looks a lot like grass when it’s cut. Perfect. Our house is 1,600 sq. ft., down from more than twice that, but we still only use the bedroom, kitchen, and the sitting room where the TV and laptops are. The dining and living rooms gather dust. We don’t have a garage so the cars sit outside. Not being a car guy, that’s fine with me. I just want something reliable to get from here to there. But we still have too much stuff.
Priorities change with age. When we’re young, in the belly of the beast, working, raising families, we go for more, bigger. And then at some point when the kids are off on their own, we stop all that and go into reverse. Been there, done that, and I just don’t care about it anymore. Although we still have lots of nice things that caught our eye along the way, shiny objects, I wouldn’t lose any sleep if a burglar took it all tomorrow. But some things, family things, have been with me all of my life, I grew up with them. Those are the material things that I care very much about. That antique rocking horse that I used to ride when I was smaller than an upright vacuum. A cherry wood dresser made by my 3rd great Grandfather on my dad’s side, those oil portraits of 5th great grandparents, the woman looking so stern, the large mahogany chest my Grandfather made for Grandma Ruth just prior to their golden wedding anniversary. Those things. I’m just the caretaker. Ruth and Hannah will get them someday whether they want them or not. They will be caretakers too. I treasure these things and know them so well. They represent stability regardless of the circumstances in my life.
This watercolor miniature was painted on ivory in 1918, when my mother was less than a year old. Grandma Ruth is holding my Mom in her lap. When my own daughter Ruth was also a baby around the same age, I took her to see her great Grandma Maverick in the elder care facility where Grandma lived out the last year of her life. All of that was a long time ago but the painting looks the same to me through my 68-year-old eyes as it did when I was a kid. Material things aren’t the key to happiness, that’s all about family, friends, good health, love, attitude…but these family mementos soaked up all of that along the way and give it back to me in small doses whenever I feel a need to reconnect. They help to remind me of who I am, where I came from, and where I’m going. In a world that sometimes seems to be spinning out of control, that is something that gives me value and comfort beyond measure.