A week has passed since Mother’s Day but I still wanted to blog about it because there are very few perfect days in life and this was one of them. It’s strange too because it was free of most of the things I have enjoyed in previous years, such as breakfast in bed and lacy, velvety cards with the sort of tender doggerel that can swiftly lead to a sad afternoon on the couch contemplating one’s own mortality if you’re not careful.
But there was none of that.
Since no one fancied trudging from one restaurant to the next only to encounter long, winding queues of angry, red-faced fathers who had forgotten to make brunch reservations (just like Frasier and Niles had, to be fair) The General suggested that everyone come to ours, and he would prepare his somewhat famous Eggs Benedict. I was briefly rattled (as I always am by spontaneous, sudden plans) but the boys seemed very excited to come and the house was soon filled with warm, delicious eggy smells, deeply savoury slices of ham frying gently on the stove and the booming notes of male voices as they laughed easily and regularly with one another and were generally having a great time. I studied each face in turn, knowing and loving each one so much and watched expressions from childhood pass fleetingly: a dimple in someone’s cheek as they were smiling, the mannerisms and cadence of speech I recognize as my own; the sheer symmetry of Niles’ girlfriend’s gentle face, flawless as a bone-china teacup and eyes that shine between violet and navy; And The General of course with his well placed one-liners and a touching effort to re-fill coffee cups and make sure additional heated, croissants kept appearing. With jam.
(Can I say that kindness and handsome-ness are, for me, an unbeatable combination).
The only really unexpected pain I felt – a quick, sharp staple gun to the heart – was when I watched Niles crouch down as he worked and I saw that his feet with their fine bones and long well-formed toes were exactly like his father’s, identical in fact; and I could feel myself suddenly being swallowed down into that familiar darkness. But it passed – I made it pass – and the pause button returned to play quite imperceptibly.
At my request, Niles had brought over a chainsaw (!!!) to deal with some logs and small trees and together with his brother, they made short work of an ugly pile of branches and soon there was an attractive, orderly woodpile, ready to feed the stout, coppery chiminea that The General and I purchased a few weeks ago. (I am obsessed with burning sticks now, both from an economical point of view (no more leaf bags! We have a LOT of sticks!) and also because later on, I can cook potatoes in the ashes that come out so soft, and so potato-y there is scarcely a need for anything else but salt and pepper and good quality butter to hear the angels sing!)
The creation of this woodpile eliminated so much anxiety for me as I cannot shake the need to create a kind of order around me and every time I passed this mess it made me feel crazy since there are so.many.things to do if you don’t want to have a garden that looks like the haunted house on the street.
And I don’t.
Later, when everyone went home, I poured myself a glass of Chardonnay (Niles did bring a bottle for me as well as three yellow roses) and sat outside as the chiminea puffed discreetly in the corner of the yard and the toads sang agreeably in a kind of Mariachi-inspired chorus and I just basked in the feeling of being loved and the knowledge that I must have done one thing, at least, very, very well.