On the rare occasion that I ask my husband, Alan, to help me put the sheets on the bed, he unfailingly quips in a mock feminine voice, “Will I have to ‘fix it pretty’?” He knows all too well that the flat sheet needs to be put on the bed right side down to obtain the most lovely effect when the bed is turned back. He fully understands that the pillows in the European shams go in the back of the profusion of pillows with the points of the corners pulled up tight…but, not too. Then, there’s the placement of the decorative pillow that serves as the centerpiece of the bed. Just...so.
“Fixing it pretty” is a phrase that I learned as a little girl from my mother. It simply means that you fluff the pillows just so or fold the cloth napkins just so or that you arrange the nativity characters just so. It’s that extra special added touch that, according to my mom, makes “all the difference in the world.”
The older I get, the more time I have to ponder life. During recent ponderings, it dawned on me that of the many things that I learned from my precious little mother – the importance of volunteering, helping the poor, faithful church membership, how to love on people, to name a few – there is one thing that I enjoy on a daily basis. Beauty.
My mother taught me how to see beauty in all things. The bold colors of a sunset on a hot summer evening, the iridescent rainbow shining in a little wet, oily patch on the driveway, a joyously pink hibiscus waving it’s stamen wand of brilliant yellow in the morning breeze, sparkling raindrops clinging to the mesh of a screen door, and the stunning beauty of a field abloom with wildflowers, wildflowers, wildflowers. There’s something enticing about the mere combination of the words of “wild” and “flower.” My mother can find something beautiful in all of God’s creation and most of man’s. As a girl, I used to roll my eyes when she pulled over on the side of a highway to collect a “gorgeous” dried seedpod from a roadside weed. Now, I have a bumper sticker on my car that says, “I brake for seedpods.”
I thoroughly enjoy studying the nuances of the colors in a rich, blue hydrangea. I know that the very best tulip bulbs come from a special company in Holland, and that they will “make good” on the bulbs that do not bloom. “All you have to do is call ‘em! You don’t even have to send back the duds!” What’s more, I tend to collect little chotchkies - the beauty of which is apparent to only my eyes…just like my mother.
Mine: vintage fishing lures (the more garish the better)
Hers: any cutesy little decorative item that you might find on the 99% off aisle at Hobby Lobby.
At this point, I must interject that for the past several years, Mom has enthusiastically attended the Vanguard School Garage Sale. Despite the fact that her home of almost 40 years is totally full of “stuff,” she greatly enjoys the hunt for treasures priced at, well, garage sale prices. Case in point: the resin merry-go-round decoration that still plays music. [look closely at the photo...] I thought that, like the saxophone-playing Santa also purchased at the sale, she was planning to give the merry-go-round as a gift. The best part of this gifting of second hand gems is that she will tell you exactly what she found at Vanguard that would look "so cute" with your kitchen decor. Not to worry. She generally becomes so enamored with the cuteness of the item that you most likely never, ever actually be surprised by it on your next birthday. This very summer, she walked from her house the almost 2 blocks to Vanguard. After she gathered all of her purchases, she asked the volunteers if one of them would be kind enough to drive her home because she couldn't possibly walk that far with that heavy load.
Because of my mother, I always feel a pang of guilt when I sit on a bedspread. One of my mother’s hard and fast rules along with “never sit on a boy’s lap” and “never sit on a toilet seat in a public bathroom before draping it with toilet tissue…just so”: Never sit on a bedspread because the mere weight of a human body will cause the bedspread to age less gracefully. She has one 20 year old bedspread that is as crisp and vivid as the day she bought at Sanger Harris on sale at 1/2 price. This summer Reed and a couple of his friends spent the night at Mimi’s during a brief Tour de Texas. He was quick to explain to them appropriate bedspread and ottoman etiquette. (Never put your feet on an upholstered ottoman unless it has been thoroughly covered by some sort of washable throw.)
One day I was doing something like talking about how much money I had saved at a Chico’s sale or putting 3 bites of canned corn in a butter tub in case I got hungry later or squealing about finding a coupon for free ice cream at the grocery store. Perhaps I was simply marveling at the way droplets of water dance on a hot stove burner. My youngest child, Reed, looked at me with grin and said in his most convincing mad scientist voice, “Ahhhhh. The transformation is almost complete.”
Yes, Reed, I AM becoming my mother. And, that’s a mighty fine aspiration, young man. Mighty fine. I only hope that I can do her proud.
Fix it pretty?
The answer will always and forever simply be “Yes!”