It was, as it was so often, almost moving day. I can’t live in a place without painting it, so I needed help. My parents, as ever, came to my rescue. They drove down to my red apartment and helped me paint it white.
My dad and I ate potato chips. And Mom, being wonderful and amazing and adorable and everything that is good and decent in this world, quickly painted this cat on the wall before covering it up in white paint forever.
When my little sister and I were kids, Mom was Mom and she drew pictures of princesses and fairies to entertain us in long lines and in doctors’ offices. I used to have a box under the bed with those pictures. Not one of them has survived to this day. (To my everlasting regret and horror.) My mom drew my favorite dreams and she didn’t even know it. My mom even, occasionally, added mouse ears to the princesses for my little sister who loved Mighty Mouse (for a year or two) in the deepest of ways.
When Mom was on the phone with my grandma, she would say “mm-Hmmmm” and doodle: women’s faces, eyes, telephone cords. She has drawn turkeys for thanksgiving; she has handmade Valentines. And no one, no one, but my sister, my Dad, and me know how ridiculously gifted she is at drawing.
Well, this is a cat she used a roller and a 4″ wide brush to magic into existence in, like, 30 seconds. Just one time, when she was helping me get ready to move. It should be noted that my mom has helped me through a million moves. My mom has filled a chalkboard with enthusiasm for my tap-dancing. My mom, in nubby pink acrylic bathrobe, tickled my back and coaxed me to sleep through pneumonias and nightmares and adolescence. And still, forever, for always, when I am sad, when I am sick, when I am tired, I long to call for my Mom, to selfishly make her get up from her very-much-needed sleep and ask her to rub my back, to know she is there.
My mom is everything.
We were in Colorado Springs. It was second (but very nearly third) grade. And there was a random PTO meeting at this new-ish school (we moved a lot; thank God for painted cats). My mom came in, rushing; she had been at work. She wore a gray-black-white floral sheer dress. Her hair was pulled up in combs. And she was, as I think of every day, Just. So. Young. One of my new Coloradan friends looked at me, in wonder, and said “that’s your Mom? She’s so pretty.”
That’s my Mom. She is, forever, so pretty.
And that’s just the start: still waters run deep and my Mom has depth and wit and beauty that is unplumbable.
But for now, not to embarrass her, let’s at least point out that the white-painted cat is clearly awesome.
She brought me a strawberry pie to get me through finals. She sat through every play I was ever in, and sometimes twice. She filled mine and my sister’s Christmases, Easters, birthdays, and every day with beauty and magic and kindness and wisdom.
If I could pick any Mom in the world, well, dammit. I’d pick her. Every time.
That’s a hell of a good cat.