Hey, Mom --
A lot is going on here and I miss you terribly in the turmoil of it all. I've moved back to Missoula and Mother's Day is sweet with the mountains still green, the black-eyed Susans on the slopes and the smell of lilacs light in the early morning air. I haven't seen this Montana in 30 years -- the hills are brown when I come in August and wild flowers out only in places like Glacier.
Almost the whole family is here for Mother's Day -- Lisa is in Oregon but they're moving back to Kalispell this summer and then the circle will be pretty much complete. Little Sophie is in third grade and Anna -- did you meet Anna? -- is a very shy pre-schooler. Michael and Leeanne moved to Spokane and all the Spokane kids came over to see Kimmie's play. Kim tells me that every time she goes on stage she channels you. I thought you'd like that.
I'm moving into a tiny cottage in about six weeks and oh, I wish you were here to supervise! Will I find just the right pink for the kitchen and lavender for the living room without you? I've bought a couch, Mom -- my first real one that Daisy will refuse to let me nap on. I'll be gathering my stuff from the four corners and will have your/my bedroom furniture back. You'd like this little house: it's very 30s, and so much of what I've inherited covers that period. I want to mount your toy stove in the kitchen and I will be putting up photos of you and Dad over the fireplace in the living room. All my dour great- aunts and uncles, the entire 23 of them! You'd enjoy this move, Mom. I think of you every time I buy something. And you'd laugh at my mania to re-collect things from my childhood that got broken or went astray in the moves. I actually bought a piece of carnival glass although the bowl you had was much bigger and more useful. I'm going to see if I can get my part of the Azalea china Grandma Kuffel had which a friend and I have collected. It would look swell in the kitchen. I'll have to put a table cloth on the table to use the Spode.
You can see I'm planning dinner parties right and left. That's your presence in me as well.
Dad is getting frail but is in good spirits. Last night was the annual Western Montana Retired Officers' Club dinner. Only five World War II vets left and I cried when they gathered to have their picture taken. It was the day after VE Day and Dad was telling us about free drinks at the Officer's Club in San Francisco. Jim found it hard to believe how even more ecstatic VJ Day was, how relieved you and Dad were that the Homeland Invasion was off. Jim had never heard to story of you and Dad renting a room from the colonel and the colonel's wife expectation that you would clean for her. It explained a lot to him about your dislike of the military, although you always seemed to enjoy the perks a great deal.
I was Dad's date and Jim and Brenda came as well.
He misses you, Mom.
Daisy's showing her age, too. She'll be 14 this summer, can you believe it? She's still active although she can't jump the way she could a year ago. I like it that she is still at a learning curve at her age. She has learned who Auntie Brenda and Uncle Jimmie is (she outright adores Jim!), and I taught her to stay in the unfenced back yard. I don't know how I did that but I don't know how I taught her anything. She's smart on her own.
You'd had laughed to see her facing down two deer one evening. She kept advancing, slowly, barking, while one of the deer pawed the ground like a bull. Finally the deer decided the noise was too much and ran off. We call her the Deer Stalker and Brenda's plants are thriving with absence of ruminants invading the lilies.
Next spring I'll find a black bitch to join her. The cottage has much more light than the Bat Cave had and I'll be able to read that little monkey face's mischief. No dog can replace Daisy but I do love a black Lab.
It felt funny being Dad's date, Mom. I put on an underwire bra, Spanx and make-up, but I'm ashamed of the weight. I hope you would be proud of me despite the weight gain, and I hope you would have been proud of us last night. I made sure it was OK for Jimmie to get in on the photograph of all the Vietnam vets -- it's the 50-year anniversary of the start of that war -- even though it was an officer's club meeting. He felt chagrined that I did it but Brenda walked him over. We're as proud of his sergeant's stripes as we are of Dad's bird and I'm glad we forced him into it.
I have a new psychiatrist and she changed my meds up. It's a huge help.
That's about it, Mom. I want you to know how much you're on my mind and how much you would love this tender time of year and the 16 people flowing in and out of Jim's house this weekend. I know you'd be buried in paint chips and helping Kimmie plan this doily hanging we have in mind. Daisy misses your pocket full of cookies.
Oh -- I bought a car, Mom! And a washer and dryer.
I'm trying to grow up.