Friday, August 09, 2013

The Art of Being Mimi



I had a box filled with cards I saved from friends and relatives dating back thirty years—maybe more. To me they are tokens of love and for a long time I couldn’t bear to toss them. But then, I finally did. A few months back, I picked moving to my new house as a good reason to lighten my load. These visions of me dieing at age 100 with my stuff for sale spread across my over grown lawn with my kids and grandkids and great grandkids going through ‘Mimi’s’ boxes  of greeting cards, wondering why I saved them, kept me up at night (not really). The cards were bound to eventually end up in the trash so why not now? Why keep carrying the load?

Cards have always been important to me. Not by coincidence I made them important to the heroine in my latest book too, Wynn in the Willows. Dear Blog Reader, do not fear, this is not a pitch to buy the book, it’s not even out yet, not even in the final edits, doesn’t even have a book cover yet. It’s just my life sometimes spills over onto the pages of my stories at times, but I am digressing.  (A word to the wise; if you don’t want to end up on the pages of my books then don’t behave badly. Taylor Swift and I have something in common).

Some of my favorite cards were from my Grandma Wells who always enclosed $2 and a hankie sprayed lightly with lavender. For the better part of her life, she lived in Ottawa, Illinois where I spent a lot of face time with her during summers when I was little. (Little did I know that later in life, my first teaching job would be in this river town and I’d fall in love for the very first time). Once there, I enjoyed the backyard kiddy pool and a lovely garden filled with purple irises.

Grandma Mary wore square heeled pumps and dresses that buckled beneath her ample bosom. Never colored her hair, gray permed curls circled her head. For breakfast we drank from small juice glasses with oranges painted on them probably done in led. She made us unmemorable meals but never cookies. Grandma played a mean game of dominoes that could beat an eight year old any day of the week.

Now I am a Mimi. A single Mimi. Just like my mom and my grandma before her was at my very same age. Only they were widowed. I am not. A mere technicality.

 I don’t care for the name ‘Grandma’ because I envision someone very different from myself. I feel younger than I remember grandmas being. I wear jeans most of the time, except for my occasional short sun dress, and like to go bare footed whenever possible. My hair is long and naturally curly. But I don’t color my hair either. If I did, it might have some pink* in it. I dance at town venues with my girlfriends. I laugh loudly. I walk fast. I revel in all holidays. I like things to be…well…different, out of the ordinary.

This year has been a whirlwind of house hunting, swearing off new houses, desiring a funky vintage cottage. I yard sailed for items. Found too much; a couple of awesome antique beds with rails, vintage curtains, hand hooked rugs, frameless mirrors, a small child pitcher of a pig with its mouth open for milk to pour through it onto cereal. I piled it all in corners of my apartment fearing I was becoming a hoarder. My someday new place occupied my mind and days and sleepless nights. In my dreams I had the most funkiest of homes that I decorated for each holiday.

 Going into a house, or searching online for my home was like playing a game of pretend, not thinking I would ever be so blessed as to actually have my very own. But here I am. Within 5 minutes of stepping onto the lot, walking across the cement slab, I lived a thousand lives. I imagined myself sitting on the floor playing Ninja Turtles with my grandsons, watching Despicable Me dozens of times and eating bowls of popcorn while sitting on my old couch that needs stitching. I thought about running through sprinklers in bare feet and eating Fudgsicles afterwards. I spent hours on the net examining house colors and granite. My fantasy life was taking root.

I moved in, planted a few bushes, watered endlessly, dreamed of my little grandsons coming, and sat on my back porch while admiring the irises, not unlike those that had been in my grandma’s backyard, that were already on the property, bloom purple realizing I am like my grandmother in some ways, while in others I am so totally me.

My grandsons arrived with screams of “Mimi!” folding me loving in their arms, covering my face with sloppy kisses, exploring my home, so happy to be here. Even though they had their own bedroom, they slept in bed with me, so many toes and fingers in one small place—cuddled close together. We read books, played with Ninja Turtles, watched cartoons, went out to eat, ran through sprinklers, ate Fudgsicles, went to the ice cream shop, played with my new dogs.

Next time they come, I think I will get a wading pool.

And in my mailbox and on my door arrived a myriad of Welcome to Your New Home cards. Family and friends send me a token of their love. I am saving these. No box needed. Hanging them on windows and on mirrors, reminding myself dreams and prayers built this house, making me strong.  Echoes of laughter ring in my ears--making memories.

Dr Seuss writes: Today you are You,

that is truer than true.

There is no one alive

who is Youer than You!




 And that is what makes me Mimi.

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