She Inspires Bottle Trees

I've been in The Colony, TX (Plano is a short drive away) since Wednesday night helping my parents; my Mom had foot surgery on Thursday morning. The surgeon broke all five of her toes, implanted pins in the toes to make them straight, and cut off a bunion. May I say OUCH? The reason for such torture is that her toes were scrunching partially due to her fashion sense in college including smashing high heels, and partially due to genetics. During the past year or so, her feet continually hurt like hell each night after teaching school, so she mustered up courage for surgery and our whole family is extremely proud. One of her main motivations was to chase after future grandchildren, thus I've decided my children will have to thank Grandma Kitty and mean it.

However, I was very disappointed that my Mom did not say sillier things as she came out of anesthesia at the surgery center. She was super adorable, wide-eyed with wonder at her location and that the pain had not kicked in (thanks to morphine in her IV). She kept smiling, blinking dramatically, and telling the nurse how cute I was which was not true as we had to be there at 6:30 am that morning and cute was not on my agenda. In addition to the early hour, before we left, a small bird got inside the house when we let the dogs out to do their business. The poor thing was petrified, but my Dad guided the bird into the garage, opened the garage door, and helped the bird fly away to freedom.

The only funny statements my Mom uttered post-surgery were, "Is water on my diet?" "Do I still have 5 toes?" (she thought that question was hilarious) And she hummed melodies into her oxygen mask which is very typical of her normal day-to-day behavior. I was hoping for more outrageous Kitty Ann-isms to include in a book, but I received no such fortune. Late that night and the next morning were b-a-d pain-wise, but as of today, the pain has let up a little (and a little is huge). She is even able to walk a bit without her crutches, just a walking boot. Through all of this, I can't recall any complaints - she remained sweet, calm, and smiled a lot. I suppose going through childbirth helped her tolerate most discomfort, but my Dad pointed out she is a coach's wife which he thinks explains a lot. I could only sense her pain level while talking to her; her sweet expression would suddenly fall and I cringed inside. I do not like to see the people I love in pain. I don't think Kujeaux does, either (the cute dog in the picture above) - he's barely left my Mom's side. Jake, their other dog, prefers to be outside, but I'm sure he cares.

We're obviously not doing anything exciting for Memorial Day. My Dad is playing golf (of course). My Mom is resting, playing Sudoku, reading, and I take my meals (and hers) into their bedroom and hop up on the tall bed to chat. Actually, minus my Mom's pain and missing my husband, I've had fun playing nurse and hanging out with my parents. I also visited Christine and her husband on Saturday, finally seeing their lovely (first) house in person. And I picked up the new Southern Review with an amazing poem by my friend Allison as well as stunning Van Gogh-inspired photography, tons of other poems, short stories, essays, and book reviews. It has been excellent reading in between doling out pain pills.

But back to the surgery, while my Dad and I waited in a room full of chairs, magazines, and boring TV, he told me about his first glimpse of my Mom on the Howard Payne campus (which was timely as their 38th anniversary was the very next day - he gave her pink and white tulips). Yes, she was gorgeous, but she also had a presence absent in every other lady he'd dated previously. As he watched her walk across campus in those fated high heels, he honestly lost all interest in other women and tried to figure out how they could meet and talk. When he did finally talk to her he said, "Hey, do you want to see a movie?" She agreed and he jokingly said, "Good, I'll find someone to take you." She giggled and pummeled his chest in exasperation. He ended up taking her to the movie himself, smart man. Currently, while she was knocked out under anesthesia, he knew she was safe, but it made him nervous and we were both extremely ready to see her awake. My Dad has zero interest in living without her; he said the sun just wouldn't come up for him anymore. Thankfully, neither of us had to see the sun sink that day.

Last night my Mom and I had a tea party of sorts with her teapot, white Wedgwood tea cups, my breakfast-in-bed tray on loan, and blood orange tea. Not only was it the best tea we've ever tasted, but it was a lovely red hue. My Mom is the reason I adore magazines and I've looked at a gazillion issues of People in "my room" (a guest bedroom) during this trip, but my magazine highlight occurred when she handed me a 2004 issue of Southern Living, showing me an excellent article on gardening to help my scrappy flower beds thrive. The photographs of flowers and plants are very nice (I want to add hydrangeas and zinnias to our flower beds), but the picture I can't get off my mind is of a bottle tree - a common piece of Southern folk art originating from Africa. I hope to enlist Johnny's help to make one of our own, or I can order one from The Bottle Tree Man. I also love this idea of sticking garden stakes into the ground, as if a rainbow of glass is sprouting from the yard.

That is the kind of woman my Mom is and why she is so inspiring. You don't have walk far in my parents' house to find her creativity. Currently, my favorite view is from the kitchen nook into their backyard: iron patio furniture, colored glass bottles hanging from hooks, and a whimsical glass chandelier hanging near the window. I'm typing from "my brother's room" - another guest bedroom and also "my Mom's study." A painting by my brother, flamingos, a Mason jar full of buttons, a row of books on ADHD, books describing how to teach well and reach different types of kids, every color of Sharpie ever made, funny cards from me and her friends, and a beautiful Picasso print - "Portrait of Dora Maar" - which she thinks perfectly captures ADHD (her personal condition). Not to mention a gorgeous antique desk on which to set my MacBook. I simply had to escape into this eclectic and charming room to write about my Mom, who helps the sun rise for her husband, her children, her son-in-law, and every other person she meets. I am biased, but I believe if you've met her you agree. She inspires a lot more than Southern bottle trees, but the way light shines a spectrum of glass color on a yard is such a perfect metaphor for Julie Carol, a.k.a. Kitty Ann, my Mom. I almost forgot to mention she has a large green wasp catcher in the living room for decoration (I want a blue one for my back porch in Houston).


Karen Miedrich-Luo said...

Jenni, which B&N did you go to in Plano? I've searched by phone and none of them claim to carry TSR. aargh! please post a comment on my blog letting me know as I'd like to get it without going through the mail.

allison said...

What a lovely and revealing portrait of your mom (and the love between your mom and dad). What a heritage!

Christine said...

I love this post! Jenni, you really have captured a beautiful portrait of Kitty Ann. I'm so glad I got to see you and sip coffee for a few hours.

Karen Miedrich-Luo said...

Thank you. I ended up finding it there (the last copy) even though they said they didn't carry it.

I also liked your post and the tribute to your parents done in the very best way -- with snippets of conversation and observation.

Jenni said...

Thanks, y'all!

And Karen, I'm so glad you found a copy. It is a wonderful journal.

kimberly said...

What a wonderful post about your mom and the love between your parents. You've outdone yourself.

I can't wait to have our own home someday. The first thing I plan on planting are hydrangeas. My great-grandmother had them and they remind me of her. There is something very soothing about those flowers.