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Wednesday, January 28, 2015

Snow Angels

I really enjoyed checking on my parents.  We had a pretty nice arrangement for quite a few years.  Mom took care of Dad, and I took care of her.  Plus, I had the kids.  They were still little boys at the time.  There are many reasons I am glad to be sober.  When I think about that particular chapter in my life, I'm grateful I got a second chance to be a reliable daughter.

I know my mother loved watching me in action, raising my family.  I could tell it brought her tremendous satisfaction to see me become a good mother.  The kind she likely always thought I could be.

When I was very young, I played with my dolls for hours on end.  I dressed and fed them.  I changed their handkerchief diapers.  I propped them up in front of the TV set.  I made them go to sleep when my father came home drunk.

"You will make a good mommy some day," Big Mare said.

That meant a lot to me.

*******

The snowstorm wasn't nearly as nasty as the weatherman had predicted, but my mother was disappointed and reluctant to accept reality.  She loved a crisis, even if it just had to do with the forecast.  Without drama, why even bother putting a bra on?

I called the apartment and waited for one of them to pick up the phone.

"Hey, Mom.  I'm going to the grocery store when the kids wake up.  Do you need anything?"

"Oh, babe.  I'm watching the news.  It's brutal out there."

Two whopping inches had fallen, an epidemic of catastrophic proportion.

I heard noises directly above where I stood at the kitchen counter, folding laundry. The sounds of an argument, maybe even something physical.  Desmond and Rory were supposed to be taking a nap.  Little boys need their rest after lunch, you know.  For two hours.  Otherwise, they burst into flames and die.  At least, that's what I told my children.

"Hold on a minute, will ya, Mom?"  I walked over to the bannister and yelled up the stairs.  "What's going on, gentlemen?"

"Nothing," they both answered.

"Please don't tell me 'nothing,' guys.  I have ears, and I definitely heard something."

I saw their short, bulky shadows against the wall at the top of the steps.

"Come where Mommy can see you," I told them.

"We're fighting," Rory admitted.  "I want to play with Little People and Desmond wants Little People.  But he took the airport guy I was playing with.  So I punched him."

"It really hurt," Desmond added, rubbing his shoulder for emphasis.

"I'm coming up there in a minute, my dears.  And I'm gonna punch both of you."

"No, don't!"  They ran from the top of the landing, dropping their brightly colored pieces of plastic as they tumbled down the corridor.

"Oh, honey," my mother said as I returned to our conversation.  "Don't punch them."

"No, Mom.  I'm really gonna do it this time."

Of course, I wasn't.

"You hear that, fellas?  Your poor grandmother is on the other end of this phone, begging me not to dole out the punches.  But I told her I have to.  Nothing else seems to get the point across."

"Please, Mom.  No!"

"That's right, Grandma.  I have two of the most unappreciative sons any mother has ever known.  Ninety thousand dollars worth of toys in that playroom, a beautiful afternoon to spend indoors together.  You would think they'd be thankful.  But that's just not the case.  These two have to fight and punch each other.  It's unbelievable."

"You're not really gonna hit them, are you?" Big Mare asked.

"I most certainly am."

"You know," she confided in a voice that suggested this was brand new information, "I belted the shit out of you and your sister when you girls were their age, and I regret it."

I kinda liked what I was hearing.  Until she continued.

"Make no mistake.  You deserved what you got.  Especially you, Mary Jane.  You were the boldest bitch," she reminded me.  "Promise me you won't hurt my precious angels."

"What's that, Grandma, you changed your mind?  You want me to punch them extra for you?  Well, I don't know if I'll have the strength, but I suppose I can try. Since you asked so nice."

"She's coming," Desmond whispered from behind the towel rack in the bathroom.

"To punch us?" Rory cried.

"Yes.  We gotta hide better than this."

They dashed through the hallway and slammed the closet door shut.

"If you lay a hand on either of those babies, I mean it, Mary.  I will kill you.  I can't do it today because it's snowing.  And probably not tomorrow, either.  But definitely by Thursday."

"How about I just drive over there right now and make it easy for you?" I offered.

"No, honey.  Stay there.  The roads are too dangerous."

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