Found in the Thursday, May 27 calendar datebook section of the San Francisco Chronicle.
"Masterbate-a-Thon Center for Sex & Culture Executive Director Dr. Carol Queen will be joined by various celebrity hosts as competitors vie to beat the current world time record. Benefits the CSC. Sunday. Competitors arrive at 10am, non-competing masturbators at 2pm and audience may arrive after 4pm. $25 (voyeur seating). Mission Street, San Francisco."
And what are you doing this Memorial Day weekend? Besides steering clear of Mission Street, that is.
The scent of chocolate chip cookies baking in the oven.
The memory of my sister and I attempting to sing "I'm Henry the 8th I am" by Herman Hermits on karaoke night on our Alaskan cruise. "Attempt" being the operative word, since we were bent-at-the-waist-knees-crossed laughing too hard.
A home video of a wedding entrance march that made the rounds last year. It was criticized by some as corny, but to critics I say "pppffffttttttt." Every time I watch this, it makes me happy for the couple whom I believe have a joyous future ahead of them. Mazel tov!
Today was the day my sister and I have been dreading the most: cleaning out Mom's bedroom. Except for large furniture, the entire rest of our childhood home is almost completely empty, except for her bedroom. It still looks exactly the way she left it eight months ago. When I close my eyes I can see her packing her hospital bag, kissing the dogs on the nose, and telling them to behave because "I promise I'll be back in one week."
It was a promise she couldn't keep.
When I called my sister this morning to confirm our scheduled 11:30 am meeting time at Mom's house, I could hear the dread in her voice, the fatigue, the sadness. And I knew she just couldn't handle this particular chore, the final dismantling of our mother's life. As I've said before, we all have our sore spots and hers is the house. God only knows, my baby sister has been there for me when I've needed her and I'm only too happy to return the favor.
"Stay home," I told her. "I'll handle it." She gratefully accepted.
But it wasn't easy.
Mom's bedroom is huge: two large closets, two large dressers, a bathroom, sitting room and a trunk. My best friend, Pam,assisted me and I couldn't have handled it without her. As we went through each section, she helped keep me focused when she saw me tearing up, getting weary, slowing down. It felt so intrusive, going through Mom's drawers and boxes, manhandling her possessions, taking her clothes off the hangers, removing her shoes from the racks, smelling her perfume; remembering that this was the dress she wore during formal night on our cruise to Alaska; the "mother of the bride" dress she wore to my sister's wedding; the silly Tasmanian Devil sweatshirt she always donned at the dog park.
As we stuffed each item of clothing into one of three plastic bags ("Keep," "Donate," Trash") I felt like I was losing a bit of my mother all over again. What made it more difficult was that Mom had saved many of Dad's possessions, as well as her mother's, so I had to go through these items too. Passports, photo albums, letters, keepsakes, news-clippings and certificates. Each conjuring up a plethora of long-forgotten memories of people I loved, of people now gone.
After four hours I was worn, depleted, dusty and shell-shocked. Surrounded by boxes, Hefty bags and trash. Surrounded by a discombobulated mess that represented all that was left of my beloved mother.
The deeper we love, the harder we grieve. And today served as a reminder of just how much I've loved.
In her eyes I was perfect. Beautiful, smart, witty, funny and engaging. My hair always looked nice and my body was just the right size. Not too fat, not too skinny. Perfect.
In her eyes I was a resounding success. Any employer would be lucky to have me, any friend fortunate to claim me, any man blessed to love me. Whenever I shared my excitement about a new article I had sold for publication, she wouldn't bat an eye. Of course my work would be published! Why wouldn't it be? And of course I'd be paid for it! All brilliant writers were paid for their work.
In her eyes there was no one she'd rather spend time with. We could be grabbing an early dinner at Applebee's, catching a matinee like Up (the last movie we saw together), or simply hanging out in her kitchen with a glass of wine; it was never about the event or location: it was about me. Being with me, laughing at my jokes, relishing my stories, valuing my opinion. Taking sheer delight in the presence of my company, whether we were standing on the deck of a cruise ship in Italy or sitting on the lawn chairs in her patio. All of it - the meals, the scenery, the entertainment - may have been the cake, but I was the icing.
In her eyes I was perfect. The perfect friend, sister, employee, pet guardian, human being. Daughter.
And in my eyes any perfection that exists in me is thanks to her. After all, the acorn doesn't fall far from the tree. On this day when we honor our mothers, my heart grieves for the woman who cherished me unconditionally; who loved me in that very special way that only a mother can love.