Today is my mom’s birthday. She would be 68. As the years go by, her birthday gets harder. Her death day gets easier; that’s the day her suffering ended.
Every time I go to my dad’s house, I steal some of my mom’s clothes. He knows this; I know this. It’s a mutually beneficial arrangement. He still can’t bear to get rid of them, and I can only handle a few at a time. Either way, her closet and drawers are slowly depleted and given to a good home.
“Is that Ama’s?” That’s what my daughter always asks me.
And I always say, “Yes.”
She thinks it’s creepy that I wear the clothes of someone who died three and a half years ago, although she acknowledges that my mom had much better taste in clothes than I do.
Last time I was at my dad’s, while he was fly fishing in Wyoming, I took a bunch of Mom’s sweaters, just in case I go up north soon to see my son. Living in Central Texas, I don’t get enough excuses to wear sweaters.
Mom did not like my dogs. She pretended to like Darlin’, the dog we had before Polo and Clover, but she was just being nice. I get that. She was the kind of person who could not spread her love between dogs and children very equitably. Before she had kids, she and my dad had Chula, a poodle. They had another poodle after I came, Lady, but after she died, it was a long time before we got another dog.
The next one was Ginger—Lady Gingerbread—a red cocker spaniel. I loved her so much I rewrote the song “Matchmaker” from “Fiddler on the Roof” to her. We eventually had to give her away because she bothered my brother’s allergies too much. I still remember the sweet college girl who came to claim her.
After I was in college myself, my brother got his own dog, Sam, a white Lab. Sam lived outside so that my brother’s allergies wouldn’t be too bad. He and his wife and three kids now have a chocolate Lab (who stays indoors) and a cat (which my brother swore he couldn’t tolerate). Funny how being a parent changes us.
I have decided that from henceforth—God willing—never be without two dogs again. Polo and Clover are sisters, so they are on the same lifespan track, baring injury or illness. I think next time I want to get big dogs. Darlin’ was 30 pounds; these two are just under 20. I want me a big-ass dog, even though I’m barely 5’2”. If Sam were still around, I’d take him in. All my dogs are rescues.