Family · Life · Memories


My current decorating strategy, as anyone who has visited the house knows, is just to hang on until the children move out, and then start over. I don’t see much point in buying nice furniture that is going to suffer various protracted indignities, and I gave up on the living room carpet long ago.

But back when I had stars in my eyes and occasional disposable income, I bought some decent furniture, including a red loveseat. It came with pillows, and I chose a lovely navy for contrast (if there’s a decorating scheme in the living room other than Exhausted Parent Chic, it’s that there are a lot of darkish primary colors). We had a couch at the time that I called olive green and that my sister still insists was light brown, and that couch came with red pillows.

Because that was also a time in which I still had control over where most of the objects in the house ended up on any given day, the blue pillows always went on the red loveseat, and the red pillows always went on the couch. (You will note I avoid assigning it a color. That was two couches ago and it is still a point of contention. Not that either one of us is stubborn at all.)

It looked nice, and it satisfied my sense of order. Ignore the dilapidated state of the pillows (“throw pillows” in this house is not euphemistic) and observe the lovely contrast.

Then my mother moved into the apartment built onto our house. She was over a lot, and by that time the children were mobile, and the pillows were on the floor what seemed like all of the time. She was very helpful about picking them up and putting them back on the furniture.

But she always put the red pillows on the red couch. This might have been okay, but they are not the same fabric, and not quite the same color. I would be willing to bet my next paycheck — which we need, not being independently wealthy quite yet — that my husband has never noticed that these two things are not the same color. But I noticed. Every day. (This is why I rarely wear an all-black outfit, even though I own multiple pairs of black pants and an embarrassing number of black shirts. The blacks never quiiiite match, and I can’t do it.)

So my mother put red with red, and I stewed. “Does she have no sense of design?” I would ask myself. A hilarious question, given the fact that I have never bothered to hang curtains anywhere in this house except the bedrooms. Every evening, I moved the pillows around so that the proper pillows were on the proper furniture. Sometimes I did it in front of my mother. Emphatically, or at least as emphatically as I could manage while carrying multiple pillows and huffing. No matter. The red pillows ended up on the red loveseat.

I was sitting across the living room yesterday and realized that my mother has been gone for six years and the red pillows still end up on the red loveseat all of the time, except when they are on the floor.

Did she unknowingly train the children that this is how throw pillows work?
Does everyone else in the house just believe that red goes with red? Am I wrong about this?*
Have I just been so thoroughly worn down in the past few years that I can no longer be bothered to make anything look nice, even throw pillows?

For the first time in my life, I made a conscious choice not to move the throw pillows around the living room to the correct furniture. I left them where they were.

Over the past couple of years, I’ve wished desperately on more than one occasion that I still had a parent. There’s something about being orphaned, even as an adult, that makes you feel undefended.

My mom isn’t here anymore. But her terrible taste in pillow placement lives on, and I think I’ll let it.

* Obviously not. But I needed a third option.

3 thoughts on “Pillows

  1. I’ve been missing your blog! Thought maybe you had blocked me?? We thoroughly enjoyed our visit to your happy home!

  2. You summed up the orphaned adult perfectly. I remember well the first year I would not hear “I remember the day you were born” because there was no longer someone around in my life who was alive then (I’m the eldest sibling). Of all the things I’ve lost, I think I miss that the most. Thanks for stating that truth for me. And let the pillows rest where they may — at least, they are not on the floor.

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