Monthly Archives: June 2015


It is one year ago today that my mother died. I expected this to be a difficult spring, and it has been, though not always in the ways I anticipated.

Grief is sneaky, and personal, and cares very little about whether it’s a good time to show up or not. Quite rude, really. 

I went out today to check on the rose bush some friends sent me as a memorial. (You will please ignore the weeds as a favor to me. Ta ever so.)


It isn’t blooming, yet. But the leaves are healthy. There is life, and there is promise. 

And that’s enough. 

Resting at Home

Elias asked me to draw a rabbit this morning. I gave it a shot, and he said, “Ugh! That doesn’t look like a rabbit!” Which it really didn’t. Drawing is not my best thing.

It reminded me sharply, though, of a story my mom told about my Aunt Roberta. Mom said something or other about not liking it when a kid asked her to draw a horse, because she was so bad at at, and Aunt Roberta said, “Oh, it’s not so hard. You just look at the horse, really look at it, and then you can draw it.”

That never worked for Mom. It doesn’t work very well for me, either. I could look at a horse for a very long time, and still not get a very good likeness on paper. And that’s okay. (With me. Elias seems pretty irritated.)

But man, if that wasn’t just exactly like Aunt Roberta. Trying to make something easier for Mom, and maybe downplaying what she was good at just a little. Said kindly, with encouragement, so she’d want to try again.

Aunt Roberta’s funeral is tomorrow morning. There are a lot of sad people around here this weekend, people who are going to miss her quiet, joyful presence.

In the days leading up to her death, when I knew it was coming soon, I found myself humming a song over and over, unconsciously.

Joyfully, joyfully, onward I move
Bound for the lands of bright spirits above;
Angelic choristers sing as I come, 
“Joyfully, joyfully haste to thy home,”
Soon with my pilgrimage ended below,
Home to the land of bright spirits I go,
Pilgrim and stranger no more shall I roam,
Joyfully, joyfully, resting at home.

If anyone went joyfully onward, I’d guess it was Aunt Roberta. Everyone left behind will just have to go on the best we can. As people do.

Pete the Parrot

I mentioned the other day on Facebook, with a certain measure of despair, that the boys had discovered Pete and Repeat jokes. This has not turned out to be as bad as I thought – they wore out quickly – but it did remind me of another story about my friend Tricia. (You remember Pinky, right?)

Tricia’s lived with or near her grandpa most of her life, and still lives just one street over. Grandpa’s getting up there, and cleaning has never really been his deal anyway, so at one point she was over regularly to clean his house for him. Grandpa is, and I say this with all the love and aggravation conveyed by a loving grandchild, a teensy bit of a packrat. He really likes stuff. He really likes stuff that makes his great-grands laugh. A singing bass on the wall is a source of hours of entertainment.

Enter Pete the Repeat Parrot.


Pete can be obtained on Amazon for less than twenty bucks* and does exactly what you think he does. He repeats the very last thing he’s heard, every time, until his batteries run out or someone throws him out the window. Both of my children have gone through a parrot stage, and I can’t quite imagine why anyone would pay for this privilege, but hey, it’s a free country.

So Pete hung out and annoyed Tricia whenever she was there to clean. Mostly, though, she was up there by herself and wasn’t talking, and when she did have to say something and Pete hopped into the conversation, she would remember that she is a grownup and she loves her grandpa, and she would take a very deep breath and go hit the off switch. Which fixed the problem until next time.

Everything was fine until she attempted to leave the bathroom one day, having closed the door to clean behind it. The door was locked. (I think she tried to explain once how there is a bathroom door that locks from the outside in her grandpa’s house because that really seems like a plot point from some horrifying Law & Order:SVU episode, but I don’t remember the explanation.)

But this is no problem in this modern age, right? You pull out your cell phone and you call the house phone, and grandpa lets you out. This works best, though, if your phone isn’t downstairs on the kitchen table. Still, grandpa’s downstairs. It’s fine.

“HEY! GRANDPA!” she hollered.
“Hey! Grandpa!” said Pete. From the hall. On the other side of the locked door.

Oh, great.
Oh, great.


Shut up, you stupid bird!
Shut up, you…

<deep breath unheard and unacknowledged by Pete>


Did I mention Grandpa doesn’t hear so well these days? Well. He doesn’t. This went on for some time. He eventually came upstairs – just by chance, not because he heard anything – and released a somewhat agitated woman from the bathroom. In a supreme act of self-control, Tricia flipped the off switch on Pete instead of tearing every feather from his little plastic body.

I got a report on this shortly after she was reunited with her cell phone. Because I am not a very nice person, I laughed. A lot. I think there’s a way to make things up to her, though. Her birthday is in a few days. Prime shipping from Amazon can get her very own Pete here by Thursday!



* This is not an affiliate link. I will not make one red cent if you purchase Pete, though I will absolutely question your sanity.