Tuesday, December 31, 2013
My Life in Words, Part Nine: I got to see her transform
Whatever job my mother happened to have at any given time, her days followed the same pattern. She worked during the daylight hours, and came home in the afternoon, sometimes dusk. That was when I got to see her transform. Most people transform into a homebody when they return from their jobs. But not my mother! It was a different kind of transformation. It was taking off the face that she had worn to work, and putting on a more glamorous nighttime face. The blush was brighter, the lipstick redder, and the eyes smokier. Well, maybe I’m confusing the eyes with the smokiness of the small bathroom while I sat on the toilet and watched her put on makeup. I was transfixed. My mom was quite an attractive woman. A natural redhead , she had a curvaceous body that would have rivaled Marilyn Monroe’s. Maybe having a baby at 17 had helped her mature earlier than most adolescents. I didn’t understand, nor think those thoughts. I was just torn in half watching her get dressed and loving that time I could spend with her, but knowing that the result of her preparations would be her leaving for the evening, and she certainly wouldn’t be home before I was put to bed. The corollary to that was that she was never the one to put me to bed. But I slept with her. In a three bedroom house, there was no room for two adult daughters and a young grandchild. By necessity I shared a room with my mom. It created in me a need to sleep with someone. I had to fight my urge to have my own children sleep with me. I didn’t wake up when my mother finally came home. But when my grandmother would come to wake me up, she would put her finger to her lips, a silent signal for me to BE silent. And I obeyed. Because I knew what it would be like if I were to unintentionally wake my mother.