Way back in November 2022, I won an overnight stay at a waterpark and promptly forgot about it because it was Christmas. When I found the envelope again I remembered that I had just assumed that it would be a trip for me, my husband, my kid and my parents because it was an overnight stay for a family and 5 waterpark passes, and we have been there together already. Plus, I’m a little co-dependent and bring my parents everywhere, like every normal 50 year old woman does, right? I think my parents probably assumed the same thing because my Mom seemed a little surprised when I told her I was going to take my daughter and two of her friends for a girls weekend after my husband prompted me to do so. It was a fun time and I got to see how three tween girls interact with each other when being partially supervised by the mom who was trying to hop on the floating lily pads with nobody noticing and going down the slides first to make sure they were “safe” for the girls. Nobody drowned, nobody got sick, and we were not asked to leave after I let the girls fly an airplane through the lobby, so I chalked up the trip as a success. I also need to send thank you notes to the girls’ moms who actually entrusted their kids to me for a weekend, because they have in fact spent time with me, and know what a risk that was.
Within 24 hours of our return, my parents informed me that their basement was flooded. I’m fairly certain they were trying to make their own water park to get the girls to come play at their house. Or maybe the universe was just trying to make sure I keep taking my parents with me everywhere I go, like every other normal 50 year old woman. Either way, it was a mess that needed my attention (co-dependency and all). I promptly pulled my husband out of his office to run over and help (unprepared and overdressed), and as usual he asked questions like “have you contacted the insurance company?” and “have you taken photos and called a restoration service?” while I took off my shoes and headed for the Beatles albums on the lower bookshelves. My Dad was of course MIA throughout this process picking up supplies at the other house where flooding occurs regularly, since it’s on a lake. He called a plumber to fix the sump pump and went straight for the power tools for the inevitable clean-up. Within an hour my husband had helped my Mom make phone calls, I had soaked my socks and pants while determining that a drain was not working and we had 3 shop vacs ready to pick up whatever water the plumbers couldn’t remove.
It’s now a full week later and the basement is mostly dry, the carpet is gone and the Old Man has cut out half of the walls after returning with a carload of power tools from the lake house. What I have found most interesting about the whole thing is that my Mom’s first text to me included “I guess God is telling me something” in reference to her tendency to save things. I would have expected her to be more upset, and apparently she knows even God is like “hey, lady, do you really need to save the program from your daughter’s 4th grade play?!?” I have for years made fun of my mother and called her a hoarder, but I have to say, going through some of the old things in the basement has been enlightening. My parents had an entire rubbermade storage bin full of photo slides from the 70s and what appears to be a bin stolen from the Post Office full of empty binders. Of the 27 plastic storage totes full of holiday décor, they only lost one, and it was for Thanksgiving which was fine since nobody has time to notice if there are turkey shaped dishes holding my Mom’s once a year greatest ever stuffing in the universe.
As my parents worked their way from corner to corner of the basement, they have rediscovered items I’m sure they haven’t thought of for years. And some of these items have made their way back to my house. I’m fairly certain that my child has the hoarder gene after she returned home with a poly mailer full of my high school papers and a grocery bag of beanie babies. But the best item was a picture of me at the age of two. The Old Man discovered it while cutting paneling out from around a built in bookcase full of an encyclopedia set from 1982 and bobbleheads of the Russian Five. Apparently in the seventies and eighties, artists just hung out at malls selling portraits, and my dad was the guy that stopped to have me sit for them, on a fairly regular basis, because they have a few of these framed masterpieces in their collection from various ages. The weird thing is the face on the child in this portrait is not even me, it’s so clearly my daughter at the age of two. I have a picture that her father took for her two year photo-shoot with the exact same face sitting on the bookcase in my bedroom.
I’m not sure if it was worth the thousands of dollars in damage for my daughter to see, but when I saw the portrait of myself and my daughter’s face appeared, I cried like either one of those two year olds would if you grabbed their favorite stuffed animal. I was looking at the little girl that was so well-loved that her parents stopped in the middle of a mall for an hour to capture her face every chance they got and seeing the face of another little girl with half of her bedroom on the living room floor after her parents tried for an hour to get a smile while cutting teeth. I’m grateful that my Dad always made the effort to capture those moments on film and canvas the same way my husband does now, and I’m grateful that my mom saves it all, even if it takes multiple houses to store the memories. I haven’t opened the poly mailer from high school and I don’t know if I want to at this point. I might just sneak it into one of the color coded plastic storage totes I keep by year of my daughter’s steps through life for her to find years down the line when she comes to rescue me when my basement floods. I just have to make sure to keep it away from my practical husband who brings the industrial sized fan to dry out the carpet because he is the guy who keeps asking me why I am saving the proof that she at some point thought I was superwoman, as evidenced by a first grade art project. Just when I was convinced I am turning into my Dad, the universe comes along and shows me I might just turn into my Mom too.
**I would like to say I wrote this while listening to the Beatles, but I am a riot girl at heart…. please read while listening to the one and only Bikini Kill