Title: Window Over the Sink
Author: Liz Flaherty
It’s been nearly ten years since we retired. I’m still in the office Duane and the boys created for me. The seven quilts I promised to make have been completed. A few books. He has new knees and new guitars. We’ve had grief and loss in these years, occasional discontent, times of being alone even when we were together. We’ve also had a blessed amount of fun. Of music and laughter and family. Of the other side of being alone that comes of knowing we never really are. Much has changed in those nine years and change, and much has stayed the same. At first, it seemed as if this book was a vanity thing. Or a thing for the grandkids to look at and think Okay, Nana, what do you want me to do with this? But in the end, like most other things in life that are worthwhile, it is a labor of love. A gathering of thoughts and dreams and memories. Thanks for joining me on the journey.
SUCH ARE THE DREAMS
When she was young, before she had formula stains on her clothes or crows’ feet around her eyes or stretch marks, your mother had dreams. In those dreams, she was a singer or artist or engineer or a CEO. She wore designer clothes and her hair was always perfect and she always had a healthy bank balance—no one ever looked at her debit card with disdain. Her vacation plans never included fast food or Motel 6.
For many mothers, there was a man in those dreams. Strong, handsome, intelligent, and sensitive, he never left his dirty clothes on the bathroom floor, never left the seat up, and never forgot her birthday. Depending on whose dream it was, he liked to eat out a lot, never told her how to drive, and wasn’t as scared of spiders as she was.
Sometimes there were children in the dreams, ones who behaved well and stayed clean and ate their vegetables without complaining. They did their homework and turned it in on time and never watched crummy television or listened to music that made her ears hurt. Even after she gave birth to these children (painlessly, with hair and makeup intact) she regained her figure instantly and never looked like death-warmed-over because her babies were the kind who slept through the night and whose teeth appeared miraculously straight and without pain.
Her home was a portrait of good taste and comfort. Its plumbing was never iffy, its windows never leaky, its floor never sloped with the passage of time. The furniture shone with the polish of quality and good wax. The beds were made each morning and the pillows arranged in the artful disarray that magazines make look easy. The mortgage, if there was one, was easily manageable. Robbing Peter to pay Paul was an unknown concept.
It is said that dreams die hard.
Not always. Sometimes, instead of dying, they just change—often for the better. We wear what is comfortable and affordable, we have bad hair days and…not so bad hair days, and time does leave its obvious and inexorable footprints across our skin. Most of our careers aren’t glamorous, but if we’re lucky, we still like them. They still pay the mortgage—which is probably less manageable that we’d hoped for—and keep the bank balance in the black. Not the very black, maybe, but close enough to keep the wolves from the door.
The men in our lives are different from what we dreamed, as faulty and fallible as we ourselves are. On any given day, they’ll probably have some of the characteristics of the dream guys, but chances are good they’ll never have them all at once.
Which brings us to the children of our dreams. Ahem.
If one of mine happened to be behaving well, the other two were not. They dressed okay, but were seldom clean at any time previous to their twelfth birthdays, at which time they suddenly started taking two showers a day and setting up housekeeping in front of the bathroom mirror. They did homework spasmodically and subsisted on diets that even now the memory of makes my stomach clench. They watched, read, and listened to every single thing I ever didn’t want them to.
There was no single day during their growing-up years that every bed in the house was made or every dish clean at the same time. The windows leaked, the plumbing required constant care and repair, and a few of the floors would have felt right at home under a ski lift. The surfaces of the furniture were marred by marks from compasses, baseball cleats, and the rubber soles of size 12 basketball shoes. And dust. Lots of dust. Because there would be time later to worry about those things.
I wrote this in the early 1990s, when our family of five had just started to expand. There are 16 of us now. Another generation of size 12 shoes, homework-at-their-convenience, and toilet seats always left in the wrong position. More dust.
When I was young, I had dreams. They’ve all come true. Every last one.
I hope yours have, too. Happy Mother’s Day.
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Retired from the post office, Liz Flaherty spends non-writing time sewing, quilting, and wanting to travel. The author of 20-some books and her husband Duane share an old farmhouse in North Central Indiana that they talk about leaving. However, that would require clearing baseball trophies from the attic and dusting the pictures of the Magnificent Seven, their grandchildren, so they’ll probably stay where they are.
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