Last week, on my birthday, I was scrolling Facebook. I follow a page called “Phantom Stranger’s Wild Wild West”. The page posted a photo of Natalie Wood in her role on “The Searchers”. It was then I learned her birthday was also July 20th.
I was immediately reminded of a “birthday gift” I received several years after my mother passed away.
I have never worked on my birthday. I have always taken the day off. One of those days, I went to an “antique” mall and was browsing through the booths. My eye was caught by the magazine cover in the picture I have included with this letter.
Several things were significant enough to me for me to have no doubt in my mind it was my mother reaching out to me from the spirit world or the Holy Spirit providing very specific comfort. Not trying to be spooky or flaky. I just can’t overlook these things as coincidence. First, my mother’s favorite color was orange. That in itself is unusual. She is the only person I ever heard say orange was their favorite color. She loved Natalie Wood and Robert Wagner. I think McCall’s was one of the the only magazines for which she ever subscribed. And most significant. This issue is July 1965. The month and year I was born. I wish I could remember how old I was when I found it. Maybe 40 or so? I bought it and framed it and had it on the wall for a few years.
So then again last week, I felt Mother wishing me happy birthday through a Facebook post on some random page I follow. Natalie. July 20th.
I don’t care if anyone thinks I am stringing too much together. Making too much of it. Even my mother would have looked askance at me for this, I think. But she knows more now, living on the other side with the Lord.
Anything I can latch on to that helps keep her memory renewed in my heart and allows me to forward her legacy of love on to her descendants is worth anyone thinking I am flaky.
I am 56 years old today. My children called, of course, and asked me what I am doing today. Cleaning house, naturally. It is what I do. For me cleaning house usually includes moving a piece of furniture or some pile of stuff I no longer want wherever it is piled.
It’s a joke with my immediate family. My older duchess fusses about my moving things around in the house. Thoroughly encouraged by her Paw Paw. She’s going to be fussing next time she comes even though I discussed some of my plans with her. I moved our bed to another wall where I prefer it. And in the green room I turned a bed a different direction and swapped two bookcases relocating the television that sits on top of one.
I refer to the extra bedroom as the green room because it has a pretty moss green carpet. I have two queen beds, a full-size iron bed and three large bookcases full of books situated around the room. This is the room the girls and I sleep in when they come to visit. We always watch television when we go to bed. The kitty cat movie was the only thing going for a long time. That is Disney’s Aristocats. Recently, we’ve been watching the original Scooby Doo cartoons I have recorded. This is why the moving of the television might be an issue. She will likely make some comments about it and we will laugh at Granny always moving stuff.
Once upon a time, when I pulled the furniture out from the wall to clean behind it every few weeks, I would put the furniture back someplace different. I would often just get up in the morning and without really planning, I would move things as I cleaned. Large pieces of furniture. Like beds and dressers and sofas. See the opening line of this post? I don’t do that as often as I once did. I guess that is one barometer of my aging body. I am less likely to dig in to big projects.
Nevertheless, I did move a lot of furniture yesterday. Pulling the books and “artifacts” as I call my collection of junk, was a big project. I did get a chance to be reminded of some of the books I have accumulated and not taken the time to read.
Another project I tackled over the past few weeks is relocating an old project. I was in my twenties when I set some broken pieces of concrete from my great grandparent’s porch into an amateur patio. I pulled out those pieces that were now in the middle of the cow lot and with his helpful tractor skills, we moved the blocks over here to the back of the porch. I set in a new amateur patio as the first step toward a Houdash pond. Granny Sally always had a Houdash pond in her yard. Wherever she lived, she put one in. Just a hole dug out and lined it with cement mixed in a wheelbarrow and spread by hand to make it hold water. That would then become the focal point for tropical plants and hold a few goldfish. The goldfish did well if the pond was deep enough to discourage the fishing coons.
I had one at our house at Camper’s Cove. It was right outside the living room windows. I dug it in August after dark one year. There was a gutter that ran off the roof straight in to it and kept it flushed, filled and fresh. Granny’s ponds were refilled with rainwater and a water hose, as needed. My new one will be the same.
Why do I do all this? Rearranging furniture, moving and situating my personal things, digging in the dirt, planting and tending things that grow. Even sorting out and rearranging my clothes in the closet play a part. Trying to satisfy the urge to create beauty and order from chaos. To be simply creative. No matter how primitive my efforts. I enjoy the process. More times than not, I enjoy the product.
He doesn’t seem to mind all my eccentricities. He often offers to help with the big stuff and always helps when I ask for it. I couldn’t do a lot of it without his support and wouldn’t without his approval. I try to run things by him that will affect his movements. Mostly, he just lets me go and do. My projects are usually recycled materials and found objects. If I can’t do 98% of the actual work myself, I skip it. It’s the doing that counts and having what I’ve done my self. I don’t know any other woman that would be satisfied with my creations. That’s okay. I do it for me anyway.
There is a new component to my work. There are two duchesses who come to play here sometimes. I recall how much I loved my grandmother’s tropical landscape. I am trying to recreate one for myself and for them. When they are older and see a banana tree or cannas blooming, they can recall summers playing in the shade of the bananas and ooing over the bright tropical blooms of the cannas. And remember how much they are loved by a tolerant Paw Paw and an eccentric Granny.