My Mom died early this morning.
I remember mason jars full of paint brushes sitting in turpentine, a palette rich with layers of paint, colors blending spilling swirling into each other. Trays of messy greasy beautiful oil pastels. Stacks of canvas’s, she would go back to her easel every day until each canvas became a painting. Sketch books–the ones with the brown cover and sometimes an expensive hard cover one to take on trips, and charcoal pencils. Skinny lemon twist cigarettes, a ring of frosted pink lipstick on the butt. Thick silver and turquoise bracelets. One of kind hand made rings– gold, silver, mixed gemstones, statement pieces. Dangly earrings. Long gauze shirts and embroidered coats. Her taste ran to the rich hippie look, textures and wild prints– Marimekko, Mizzoni. Eyelash curler, clumpy mascara. Blond hair always in one of those sexy messy updos, bangs floating across her forehead. Hand blown glassware, full of bubbles. Kahlua and cream, boonesfarm strawberry wine. Glasses on top of her head. She could never find them. A red rambler station wagon covered in flower power stickers. She let us ride on top down country roads. I remember laughing so hard when she would suddenly proclaim that she had lost control of the car, as it veered back and forth wildly, her shouting back to me “I can’t control her” she named her car The Red Baroness “shes got a mind of her own” and we would scream and laugh as that car took over and drove us to the ice cream store. She always got the weirdest flavors, Pistachio and Lime Daquari, double scoop please. No pretending to be on a diet when it came to ice cream cones, a double scoop or nothing. And one for each of the dogs. She never went anywhere without her pack of dogs with her. They sat outside the grocery store, offleash, occasionally wandering in, strolling the aisles. Her favorite bars and restaurants were the ones that let our dogs lay under our table. She had a million friends, artists, actors, everyone was interesting. She loved parties and late nights. She was terrible cook, lost her mind on the holidays. Bought us too many presents. Painted her house purple, filled it with artwork from her travels and had the very most decorated tree every xmas. She raised me right, brought me up with a paintbrush in my hand and a dog to run wild with, through the woods, across the water in my little sunfish sailboat. Come home by sunset or just a little later. She liked to disappear from the world to a cabin or a tent in the woods for days, weeks. And this beach was everything, her beach. Its what I see when I think of her. The narrow twisting path opening to gold sand, wild blue lake michagan water, breakwall, light house, manitou island off on the horizon, fishing boats leaving the harbor. Our dogs running down the beach. My mom in her suit, hair up, lipstick on. That orange Bain De Soleill suntan lotion. I loved the smell of it. Swimming until my fingertips were wrinkled., holding my breath skimming along the bottom eyes open grabbing fish with my hands. Coming up for air, my mom waving from the beach. Crackers and cheese, pickles, sand everywhere. Once a week she would try to comb out my hair while I sat on a towel looking out at the lake. Johnsons No More Tangles spray and a comb, she tried but I was wild and my hair was always a mess. Fast changes with a towel wrapped around you. Tennis shoes, cut offs, a tshirt and a windbreaker. Never leaving until the sun went down. Her beach. RIP Christine Elizabeth Walker