Friday, May 9, 2008

My Mother Was A Crazy Person

I could have also titled this "A Tale of Many Sofas" but it seemed important not to bury the lead. My mother was, indeed, crazy. Not, she always said, "Healthy people take the stairs!" (like I do) but really crazy. I'd love to put a name on it for you, but there doesn't seem to be one. Clinically depressed with a soupcon on paranoia, or something close. I'm going to tell you now that she died sixteen years ago. I always hate it when someone asks a question about my mother and I have to say she's dead. It's not upsetting for me, but it's so awkward for the inquirer. You know, because people are generally nice and mothers dying is bad.



She was aesthetically focused for sure. The picture, above, was taken in Atlanta and I have no memory of it ever being that cold there. Clearly, this was all about the look. My mother loved clothes. A lot. And shoes. She was a smidge taller than I am, close to 5'10" and she wore a size 6 shoe. Like her feet had been bound as a child. When we cleaned out her closet after she died she had beautiful shoes from size 5 to about an 8.5. I mean, a deal's a deal.

She read a lot and she read a lot of magazines but I don't remember any shelter magazines. She was creative and stylish, but I didn't think house stuff was really her thing. I sort of had an impression that she got things the way she liked it then left it alone for five or ten years or so. Then I started going through pictures.

The picture with my dad, above, was taken in "the apartment." That squarish sofa with its jazzy geometric upholstery very nearly screams 1965. It made the move in it's original fabric to the new house.

Within a year it was recovered, maybe slip-covered in this solid, nubbyish linen. I think it's sporting a contrast welt. (I jumped off of a couple of pillows and hit my head on this coffee table. I still wear the scar.)

I have no memory of the floral chair in the background and it is never seen again. Banished. (Note the Victorian crystal lamp; it resides in my living room now.)


Ah, Spring. Apparently blue floral was the way to go, but in the curtains and not the chair. That was all wrong. So, curtains up, nifty new chair. And, yes, jazzy p.j.'s if I do say so myself.



This is my birthday, mid August, 1970. Same sofa.

And then, within two weeks, gone. Black leather, with a chair to match is in its place.

My parents got divorced and we moved from this house in '72, so a new set of sofas appeared within two years. And curtains and a rug.

And this floral chair, which I think might be ingrained in my subconcious, because I think I love it. But I don't remember it or any of its predecessors. I do, however, remember receiving that Scarlett O'Hara Madame Alexander doll. She graced my shelf for years.

The sofas made the transition to the townhouse in Tulsa and stayed the rest of her life. They were recovered maybe twice in the next twenty years. The thing about being crazy is, it didn't necessarily diminish all the other things she was. Smart, funny, creative. She was fabulously unstable, but she was also just plain fabulous. She came by her craziness naturally as her mother was crazy, and yes, I do understand the implication. I just hope someday one boy takes the time to sit down and sift through the pictures and take note. Of themselves, of my craziness or the sofas. Moms are like that. We need to be remembered.

25 comments:

Suzy said...

Oh Mrs B, those photos are adorable! And I'm sorry about your Mum.

pve design said...

Funny, crazy and all, how we love them no matter what! Wonderful post and she surely must be sitting in a fun couch now smiling down on you.. a crazy smile as you bring in a new lamp, or a sofa for that matter.

Martha said...

What a great piece. Loved seeing all the old pictures. Hopefully, we get the best from our parents and not the worst. I like to think so.

Martha

Style Court said...

Where to begin? The ensembles! So glad you decided to share them. Priceless. And that sofa may be the root of your Gambrel attraction.

Now I understand a bit more where your flair and spirit come from. Happy Mother's Day!

mcinkc said...

This one makes my eyes water.

Happy Mother's Day, POD!

The Peak of Chic said...

What a fun trip down memory lane! And, weren't those Madame Alexander dolls the best??!! I have Scarlett too :)

LondonCalling said...

Crazy love. Happy Mother's Day Mrs. B!

Jessicas Follie said...

I also have that Scarlet O'Hara doll -- my mother just sent it to my daughter last month. I also think I had that robe you are wearing in that same picture -- which has to be Lanz. The kind where a doll could also have matching pj's.

fun post.

Cote de Texas said...

Awm Mrs. B - so sweet and sad at the same time. Thanks for sharing and Happy Mother's Day to you!

linda said...

Love this post. Happy Mother's Day, Mrs B !

In(side) the Loop said...

What a lovely, lovely tribute. I thoroughly enjoyed reading this and my gosh, you were probably the snazziest little girl in Atlanta!

Happy Mother's Day!

beachbungalow8 said...

that was beautiful. honest, funny, real, and loving. i think any of us who are creative are wobbling on that tight rope of sanity.

i say, to all,'embrace your hidden crazy'

happy mother's day ;)

Kwana said...

Thanks for this post. I understand what you're saying. Crazy mom and all. I get it and I have it. Crazy Fabulous! Happy Mother's Day!

My Notting Hill said...

Your post brought me down memory lane. I remember having a bathrobe very similar to the one you're pictured in. Happy Mother's Day.

Cote de Texas said...

So sweet and so sad! It shows my why you married who you did and had three boys and live in the house you do...it's all so normal and nice and tidy and wonderful. Stablility for the boys and for you, too. very very poignant for me for reasons I just can't say in this post.

Lee said...

I think you will be remembered for many generations as loving, thoughtful, creative, energetic (thinking of the auction), giving (you're so willing to share with us) mother, wife, online and offline friend with excellent taste and a good eye. I think you've created some wonderful memories for your sons and hope they will choose wives, marriage and parenting styles, and generosity that you have modeled for them.

susannah said...

I don't know why I haven't stopped by your blog before--I've seen your name all over. THIS BLOG IS FABULOUS. And this post? Like you reached into my head. My mother is also crazy. Maybe not in the exact same way but much too strange to merely be eccentric. It's made for a very confusing relationship because you're right--being crazy does not prevent one from being loving, smart, funny. But the craziness also makes me angry. Sometimes (often) I wish that she could be normal.
And yes, her mother was crazy. And now I am a mother and I watch very closely for signs.
LOVE the blog. I'm adding you to my blog roll right now!
Oh--one last thing (sorry about the novel here)--you just left a comment on my blog with a quote from Anne Lammot. Which unnerved me because I am sitting here reading Operating Instructions by Anne Lammot. I have not read her books in years. Strange.

Mrs. Blandings said...

Susannah - I do know exactly how you feel. I still have moments when I think, "Why the heck did you not get yourself together?" And - Operating Instructions should be mandatory reading for new mothers. I laughed and cried all the way through it. She tells you all the things that other mothers don't - or are afraid to.

I'm adding you to my blog roll as well - the respect is mutual.

Reggie said...

Thank you for sharing this wonderful, bittersweet, and moving tribute to your mother. I have been a reader of your blog for some time now and this piece cemented the admiration and respect I have for you.

visualvamp.blogspot.com/ said...

Hi Mrs. Blandings, Thanks for the great photos, and the great story. You're the best!

kalbert1 said...

Happy Mothers' Day to a special and gifted woman who shares so much with Kansas City and the world through your blog! Loved all of the photos! Karena

Dianne said...

Happy Mother's Day Mrs. B!!!! This bittersweet tribute is very moving.

Marie Louise said...

Wow - great post. Really makes you think. I still have my mother but we don't have the most perfect relationship and I certainly have my baggage from growing up with her. Funny relationship - mother/daughter.
I am trying to do it differently with my three daughters.
As for the couch - and the wood paneling, etc. - oh yes, they look very familiar to me!

S'mee said...

Terrific tribute and what a trip through the past! wow!

As far as those p.j.s, the three hip sisters all had a pair, one each in neon yellow, HOT pink, and HOT orange. Mine were the pink ones thank you very much (I felt much like a 4th grade version of Goldie Hawn on Laugh In.)

Anonymous said...

Hey are you a professional journalist? This article is very well written, as compared to most other blogs i saw today….
anyhow thanks for the good read!