All we asked was that she not pick brown and she promised us she wouldn’t. The seventies had left us to dwell amongst hideous tones like burnt umber, avocado and an overdose of orange. Here in the early nineties we both wanted sage green. It may be the first and only time my sister and I agreed on anything as children. Blue would be nice, even slate grey. But please mom, please, not brown.
I was nervous going to school that day knowing the fate of our basement remodel lay in my mother’s incapable hands. We had waited so many years to be able to afford this and it felt like a delicate important matter. “Don’t worry,” she said as I walked out the door. Then she smiled that mischievous smile, laughed that devilish laugh and closed the door behind me. Obviously something was up.
My mother has always been good at a lot of things. She’s the person you want with you when you get lost in the woods or you have to drive a really big truck or re-tile your kitchen with a wet saw. She’s a hands-on, get the job done kinda gal. When I was a kid she was the neighborhood veterinarian. Folks would stop by with birds that had fallen out of trees, raccoons that were hit by cars, abandoned baby squirrels. We would build cardboard box homes with old rags for beds and one by one she would nurse them back to health with an eye dropper.
In a nutshell, she is awesome but she is not the type of woman you can trust to redecorate your family room, especially considering her favorite color is brown, dark earthy dirt brown.
So it was with hesitation that I set out for school that day knowing the deed would be done by the time I returned home in the late afternoon. Remodeling in our house had only happened once before when my parents hired and then helped (yes indeed!) a local contractor renovate our kitchen. It was a large project that took months of sawdust, decision making and entering the house through the front door to accomplish.
But they had help that time, they had a guide. This time it was all on my mother’s whim and it would be over in the flash of an eye. Wall-to-wall carpet installed, furniture delivered, curtains hung all before I got back from school. There would be no time to change her mind.
I really thought she was going to pick blue. All day in class I thought about what it would look like, how the light hue would brighten up an otherwise dark area of the house. The sunlight would shimmer in through the windows glistening on the new carpet. Maybe we’d get a new white coffee table with a mirrored glass top. Frankly if it were up to me we’d have all wicker furniture a la The Golden Girls and the color scheme would be Georgia peach and aquamarine. But no, it was not up to me.
In hindsight I realize the colors had been decided on weeks prior when the carpet order put in, but up until that point I held on hope of a pastel living room. I threw my backpack on the kitchen counter, leapt over the cat and headed to the stairs that led to the basement.
“Moooooooooooooooom!!!!” I screamed as if we lived in a mansion and not the modest suburban 1600 sq. ft. abode that is the only true home I’ve ever known. I could hear her laughing upstairs in her bedroom.
“You promised!” I whined. I sighed an audible sigh. I stomped around and grumbled. My mother continued to laugh.
“I promised not to get brown and it’s not brown. Honey, it’s beige.” Sarcasm, her strongest asset. She gave me the tour. “Look there are blue accents in the new couch, which I matched up to the blue accents in the curtains.” A mocking tone, she’s good at that too. “What do you think?”
Ah but there it was, a genuine smile. She really liked her new living room. And she really did add a touch of blue to appease the masses. In truth the beige was light enough to brighten up the room and in truth the new couch she picked out was really comfortable. She deserved this win.
“OK. I guess it’s not that bad.” Quite the confirmation from a teenager, huh?
The amount of effort, love, time, patience, energy and pure heart-of-gold awesomeness my mom has put into our family is off the charts. I also commend her for taking full advantage of all loopholes that resulted in her favor. I wouldn’t change a single thing about that basement. And I wouldn’t change a single thing about my mom.
Happy Mother’s Day my dear one!