Saturday, June 29, 2013

Sometimes, Dawn Breaks

One piece of cherry pie and some coffee later and here I am. Of course, the dog, Max snores heavily, while the cats leap in and out of their window. Dawn might be soon, I think.

A small vignette: I keep a picture from the 1930's, of my grandmother on a horse, in El Paso, TX, on the farm. It sits in a small white frame, with my mother's bottle of Eau de cologne, Chanel No. 5, next to it. It was her favorite perfume, and some of my best memories surface, when I uncork this bottle and the vaguely vanilla scent wafts across the room. The golden clock that chimes, sits next to the picture, and my cat keepsake, a statue of a cat that I got in Cairo, Egypt. It's the small things in life that hold me together sometimes...

In her later years, my Mother's favorite scent was lavender, and I grew it for her, to put in the oak chest of drawers that my niece now has. Lavender powder, and lotion, soap: she loved it all. She was a very cuddly woman, and it was nice to hug her and smell the garden.

When I was young, she taught me how to apply lipstick, always bright red. She had white skin, and black, black hair, and the red matched her pearly teeth. Between bouts of lifelong, severe depression, she taught me that ladies wore slips under every dress, as they did a bra, and a girdle. Underwear was ironed by the help, or oneself, if one was between maids at the time.

Her dresses were hand made for her, and she had some lovely ones. She cut one down for me, for a prom dress, in later, and more unhappy years. It was baby blue Shantung Alice Blue gown. During the unhappy years, she washed dishes and did laundry, and raised two children, almost on her own; my father was largely absent in spirit, and sometimes in body, too. And she worked as a registered nurse. She had shock treatments for depression, when it was the very cutting edge of treatment. There was nothing she wouldn't do to make the depression go away.

And, as blue as I get sometimes, no matter how hard the winter, I know I don't fight the same, horrible depression that she did. Neither does my brother. We are profoundly grateful for this. But in the better years, in Gloucester, where I grew up, and later, in the Old House, she had maids. Ladies maids who doubled as cleaning women. It sounds snobbish, I know. But she was raised, like Scarlett O'Hara's mother, to run a farm, and a large, prosperous one at that, and knew the value of a good servant. I wouldn't know what to do with a servant if you hit me upside the head with one, but she did.

She had dozens of gloves, some of which I still have. In those days, ladies, and everyone else, too, wore gloves and hats whenever and wherever they were. She grew up in a time and place when she could drive a tractor, but men drove cars, and she never learned to drive one really well. She knew how to milk a cow, and to make flower arrangements. Her taste was exquisite. She drank a malt duck every year, almost, at Christmas. Just one. My Father had that covered, and it was the grief of her life that he was an alcoholic. But he was also a very refined, elegant sort of man, just the sort for her.

But the dawn comes. It's a quiet morning, and I don't know what makes me think of my Mother today. I dream more of her, than I did my Father, after he died, and I don't know why. I was like Dad, and perhaps he gave me his admiration for her feminine ways and iron will.

Physically, I resemble her a great deal, and I am sure I have some of her personality, without all the niceties. I don't care if I have on jewelry, or scent or makeup, most of the time. As long as I can keep clean, I am happy. I do scent my clothes and sheets with lavender and verbena, though. And my hair is always killer...

The birds sound outside, as the sky lightens. It is my favorite day, grass mowing day. There is nothing like being on a smallish tractor for most of the day, smelling the grass cut, and basking in the sunshine. I continue to face a challenge, a person who is a tornado in my life, another alcoholic, with whom I am cutting ties.

She loved yellow roses, because my Father was from El Paso, and the song, "The Yellow Rose of Texas." She loved sunset rather than dawn, and the day started when my Father got home from work at 5:30. Her room was tidy, and scented, but not overbearingly so. She smelled of her own particular fragrance as I long to hug her again!

Instead, I have her bottle of lavender beside my bed, and a box of tissues, and a keepsake box. My dog snores heartily. She would have sooner had a raccoon in her boudoir. Although she did appreciate the presence of a cat, in her room. I can see each leaf on it's tree now, it has gotten so light...

1 comment:

  1. Yes, I love the smell of grass screaming it's scent of distress as it is being cut. ;-)