"When I grow up, Mama, I'm going to buy you a mansion," I used to tell my mother when I was about six years old. I don't remember why my mother wanted a mansion. Maybe she didn't. Maybe I wanted a mansion.
We lived in a small apartment over a restaurant, back then. My mother worked as a waitress. I didn't see a lot of her because she worked the dinner shift - more tips, you know.
As time went on, I never forgot that promise. Neither did my mother. To this day, she reminds me that I was going to buy her a mansion. She does this from her cramped but cozy two-room apartment attached to my older sister's house, far away in Binghamton, NY. She reminds me and laughs. There is no mansion in my mother's future and she knows it.
I wanted to buy my mother a mansion. As a child, as a teen, as a mother of three small children, the dream to become a best-selling author (novelist) kept my fingers busy - scribbling away (no computers, then). I wrote, and wrote, and wrote. I sent story after story to publication after publication, and I was thrilled when blank returns changed to letters encouraging me to send more, even though the story I sent was not "suitable". Surely, I thought over and over, I will become published and write more and create a story the whole world will read. And, I will buy my mother a mansion.
It felt as if I were knitting the afghan of my life - in many colors and hues, without a pattern or design. Just knitting.
What happened between then and now? Where did I lose the dream of becoming that author who could buy her mother a mansion? Was my knitting faulty? Or, did I just drop a stitch?
Today, I'm happy where I am. I still long to return to my fiction writing days. But, blogs and social media have been a fine substitute. Over the years, I raised three great children and had a wonderful home - lost in a divorce, of course. My next home was lovely, also, but much smaller and more cozy. No where near mansion status. Even today, in my fine home with Tom, here in CO, we live modestly. The sun comes in the front rooms every morning, settling on the furniture with a softness that invites the dogs to stretch out in its glow. It soothes the chill of lingering shadows that crouch in the corners of the room, waiting for dusk.
The lusting after a mansion has calmed.
But, it isn't gone. I feel as if the desire to live in a 'mansion' still lingers in my soul. But, instead, I imagine a big, wonderful log cabin, full of open space, and wooden beamed ceilings, and pillows in front of a gigantic fireplace, and pets who race about the house with complete abandon. I see it set back from the road, apart from other dwellings, surrounded by trees and bushes - with a wing just for my mother.
Those earlier dreams of a mansion of brick and stone, set to the curb on a city street bustling with businessmen and women, all hurrying to work after lunch at a deli around the corner, are no more. Those memories come from the years of my troubled youth, when I lived on such a city street, surrounded by buildings and smells of fried food, where big, clumsy cars rolled along the roadway, drowning out the shouts of children calling to each other from across the street.
There was a mansion, a real mansion, back then. I remember a very big house...with a wide, winding staircase and marble floors and big chandeliers that made me blink they were so bright. I remember visiting with my mother. I remember her asking me, "Would you like to live here?" I remember wondering how anyone lived in such splendor.
That was the mansion I was going to buy my mother, when I became rich and famous. Back when I was six.
Today, I'm completing the afghan of my life - filling in that hole of the dropped stitch with exuberance, and joy, and great anticipation. Today, I believe I'll achieve the log cabin of MY dreams, and I'll invite my mother to visit. My log cabin will be bursting with warmth and invitation where a dozen colorful afghans on couches and sofas and beds beckon visitors to cuddle up and stay awhile.
Mansion? No, not for me. No cold, eye-shocking mansion that might, if it wanted to, eat up a small child who would not let go of her mother's hand.