“Excuse me!” Mom gasped, feigning surprise at my attitude.
“Mom, why do I have to vacuum?” And I hadn’t meant that as the outright whine it sounded
“LOL I asked your grandmother the very same thing when I was your age,” called Mom from behind the fridge door, elbow deep in her own chores.
Now it was my turn to gasp, “Moms shouldn’t say ‘LOL’!”
Then she paused in her cleaning, sitting back on her heels, she slowly corrected her answer, “Because we are lucky enough to have carpeting.”
“That’s silly. Everyone has carpeting,” I was determined to argue with Mom’s suddenly reverent tone as much as with the task at hand.
“Exactly what I said to your Grandmother. But she schooled me…”
Arg! Mom’s shouldn’t say ‘schooled!’ was what I thought. But instead, I maneuvered ahead. Anticipating what was coming next, “Let me guess, Grandma told you a story,” I interrupted.
“The very same one I’m going to tell you now,” laughed Mom.
“Fine! I’ll vacuum!” I fairly shouted, doubling speed, trying to Hoover my way out of the living room before another of Grandma’s stories caught up with me.
“You started it,” warned Mom. “Don’t be-a askin’ ifn you ain’t prepared ta take da answer,” Mom recited the old family mantra, complete with Grandma’s Texan drawl and wooden spoon wagging.
That convinced me. Recognizing the sign of the serious wooden spoon, I shut off the vacuum and put the kettle on for Mom. When we were settled on the porch with her tea, she began…
The two girls stopped at many roadside stands and shrines to ask directions, and found their way through the tiny towns to tinier roads, and finally, at the end of a dirt street in the late afternoon, they came to the newlywed cousin’s home. It was a plain adobe brick house, but with proper wooden door and window sills, even new glass panes in the windows. The girls waited in the truck, as is the old rural custom where visitors are scarce. Not too long before a very pregnant (you know your Grandmother would say, “ve-ry pregn’t”), and proudly beaming girl of their own age gladly welcomed cousin and stranger into her home.
But inside, Grandmother was surprised to find (or rather not find), that there was no flooring in the house. Just the same dirt as the road outside, but packed hard like tile. And only one room, with a linoleum topped kitchen table near the door. A tiny jar of rosemary bloomed blue over the table. Your Grandmother always favored rosemary, for its skill of making anyplace smell like home. There was an old couch in the center of the room, facing the window for entertainment. And in the corner there was a small bed, neatly made. That’s about all they had.
Likely, someday, I’ll have a child. And I already know just what I’m going to say when she asks me, “Mom, why do I have to vacuum?”