get to the toilet, and get our hands washed. Add to that the fact that three delirious, people-missing dogs are jumping all over the three exhausted, snack-needing humans, and, well, let's just say that many days I am an epic failure at keeping my cool.
When we moved in several years ago, my daughter was only eight months old, and my son had not yet started kindergarten, but I had visions of the future. I couldn't wait for my children to be precious school kids with colorful backpacks loaded down with art work that I would cherish forever. I decided that this hallway would be the perfect place for a rack to hang their darling bags and sweet, little coats for quick retrieval when heading out the door each day.
Above the coat rack, we mounted a huge cork board intended to be the new home for all those papers coming in each week. I'm sure you know what I'm talking about. There are usually no less than six-hundred pictures, math sheets, carefully labeled maps of Africa and at least one draw-the-line-to-the-opposite-word worksheet that wind up on my kitchen counter. If I knew no one was looking, I would chuck every last one of them in the garbage, but because there are surprise inspections of The Board, I have to carefully choose the best and mount them as a means of honoring the fact that my daughter has mastered simple addition and that my son got an A on his algebra test.
For as militant as I am about keeping the rest of my house clean, I tend to let the The Board get a little overgrown, so to speak. The drawings start to interfere with the hanging of the backpacks, and the pushpins holding the treasures start to falter with the responsibility of keeping in place a stack of papers at least seven deep. Each time you walk by, the breeze generated by your passing causes ruffles and occasionally a casualty hits the floor. I'll cram it back up there and vow to address the over-crowding another day.
Saturday morning as I was bringing laundry from the dryer to my bedroom, I struggled past the The Board with an armful of clothes, bumping into backpacks and ripping down a picture of Horton Hears a Who in the process. Finally fed up with the mess, I decided it was time for a schoolwork purge. I put the laundry basket down and started randomly pulling off papers, surprised at how out of date much of the display had become. Then, as I lifted a carefully drawn snowman from the corkboard, I saw it. It was faded, and strangely juxtaposed beside my daughter's crayon drawing of our family and a flower made of construction paper, but there it was - a newspaper clipping of my mother's obituary, apparently posted on The Board two and a half years ago.
I took the fragile-looking paper in my hand without removing it from The Board, and I read it voraciously, like I had never read it before. And then I got mad, madder than hell. I looked at the beautiful painting that my daughter crafted of the sky in winter time and felt cheated because her beloved Granny never got to see it. I thought about the announcement for my son's induction into the Junior Beta Club and wanted to scream at the top of my lungs that my mother should have been sitting in the audience with us that night. Some days - and it doesn't matter that I'm forty-two years old - but, some days I just want to talk to my mama, damn it, and it makes me mad as hell that she isn't here.
I left it on The Board. It felt wrong to move it. I obviously placed it there for a reason, not realizing that I would uncover it two and a half years later, and understand all over again that I miss her desperately. I'll continue filling the board with the keepsakes my children are creating, and let my mom's watchful eyes stay in the middle of the chaos...just like always, just like she never left us.