But AT LEAST this post has way fewer references to early-’90s hair rock videos in which supermodels get murdered (PROBABLY).
So, here is the more awful and terrible version of the same sort of thing I was writing about last time I wrote here, and it’s JUST IN TIME FOR MOTHER’S DAY. Which is to say, a day late. Which, believe you me!, Mom would NOT MIND, I never once got a birthday package on time as an adult, it’s FINE.
Anyway, a year ago I posted something to my Facebook about how I never used to understand the thing about single people who bitched about Valentine’s Day or felt horrible about themselves, because even though I have been single a staggering majority of the Valentine’s Days I have been alive, I have never really been bitter about Valentine’s Day very much. Being a motherless child on Mother’s Day makes me want to open fire on every popular brunch restaurant in town, however. Which REST ASSURED I would never acquire enough ammunition to do, given the number of popular brunch places in MY NEIGHBORHOOD ALONE, and which is also stupid because I feel quite certain I never once took my mom out to brunch while she was alive. Or really did anything cool for Mother’s Day. Actually, once in grade school we did some project we made cards that were shaped like tea pots and taped bags of tea, and the tea was Constant Comment. I didn’t drink tea at that point, even herbal tea, but I must have had some of that tea, because I remember it.
This story happens to be about a completely different elementary school thing. Which is that in I think second grade, my teacher at the time read me a story about someone called the Lupine Lady, who planted lupines everywhere she went, because her grandfather told her to make the world more beautiful while she was out there enjoying it and doing badass things, and she was all, all right! But HOW? And finally as an old woman she scattered lupine seeds everywhere.
It had a profound effect on me, that story! So profound that I never remembered the name of it. Actually, I thought I remembered the name of it. And I looked for it everywhere: libraries, book stores, for YEARS I would go in and ask for the book called “The Lupine Lady.” Only because, or at least 75 percent because, I had been telling my mom about this book for so many years and I wanted her to finally see it. Because my mom was such a lunatic about flowers that we joked that she would die by driving herself straight off a cliff admiring somebody’s garden. She didn’t, as it turned out. But LO, the number of times she NEARLY FUCKING KILLED US ALL with her, “Look at those hydrangeas!”
Now apparently most women worry about Turning Into Their Mothers in some way. I was never one of those because it was pretty OBVIOUS that was going to happen, but as a kid who could never really be bothered to lift a thumb in the garden, and certainly did not care about such things as FLOWERS, that I would find myself, as a (non-driving) adult, walking into street signs admiring people’s hydrangeas. Laugh all you want, but we didn’t HAVE blue hydrangeas where I grew up; in fact blue flowers of any kind were quite rare, and so when I see them (undoubtedly, too, because my mother’s favorite color was blue), I get this really strong compulsive tendency to gawk, partly because it’s beautiful, partly because blue in nature still seems wildly and wonderfully inappropriate, like someone running down the street naked or something. Yeah, blue flowers are to me what boobs are to everyone else.
HAPPY MOTHER’S DAY.
ANYWAY. So, a little over a year ago I FIND MYSELF inside Powell’s Home and Garden, alien abduction-style, and hey, here is this children’s book! With a beautiful gray-haired lady on the cover! Surrounded by purple flowers! (Not blue! PHEW. IT MIGHT HAVE BEEN AWKWARD.) Say, I’m thinking. This looks familiar. Could it be…? And I pick it up. And it is. It IS the book about the woman who planted lupines everywhere, who implores her niece to make the world more beautiful, as her grandfather had implored her.
And because, you know, one forgets, I’m initially really very excited! Because I finally found it! And then I’m not so excited, and grateful that by this time I have become sort of an expert at crying, discreetly, in public places.
Anyway. The book is called Miss Rumphius. And I finally found it. And the funny thing is, 20 or more years later my memory of it is staggeringly clear, but it’s also better than I imagined, and more inspriring, and more beautiful, and more concise, and my mom can’t read it now, but you can, and you should. Go out and get it.
And by the same token, call her if you can.