I spent this past weekend with my sister. Waking up in a narrow bedroom, she in the twin bed, me in the pull-out trundle. Four decades previous, we slept in the same arrangement in our childhood home. Back then the suburban nights were quiet. This weekend, the traffic from Lake Shore Drive provides white noise inside my mom’s Chicago apartment.
Mom’s apartment has one bathroom. When it is time to get ready, we take turns. Martha in the shower, me just out getting dressed. Martha using the sink, me in front of the mirror in the bedroom putting on makeup. All the while, one ongoing conversation threads its way through.
My brother, John, joins us for dinner on Friday night. He suggests I add a sombrero to my poncho, jeans and boots look and is rewarded with a “fuck you” and a hug. At dinner, Mom is tipsy on little food and a second Prosecco. Us siblings order a cocktail from the back booth at our favorite restaurant a block away from Mom’s apartment. We are simultaneously grown up and kids again all at once. We toast our witty comebacks with “To Me!”
Our saint of a waitress, Carolyn, patiently takes our order after many trips to our booth. We each order then change our minds, discuss as a group and order again. Mom makes significant modifications to every dish she orders. Once embarrassment inducing, I know that people will give her grace due to her age. From them, I learned to give her grace as well. Carolyn earns a handsome tip.
Over two days, we swear with abandon. We acknowledge our many strengths and just as many foibles. We are partners in crime as we have quiet, humorous conversations just outside of Mom’s hearing, a slowly shrinking circle. In response to Mom, Martha makes an observation. I add a snarky comment, but Mom gives Martha “the look.” She didn’t hear me. I grin. The baby of the family gets away with murder again.
My oldest brother, Pete, couldn’t make it this weekend though we talked on the ride down. I think I don’t have his full attention until he catches me making up a word: individuating. Immediately, he zeroes in. I laugh and admit that it just came out. He points out that it sounds like a real word. He can even use it in context. I am the winner in the end. Individuate is a real word, Pete.
Somewhere through the decades, we stopped trying to outdo ourselves and fix each other. It is no longer survival of the fittest but acceptance that we Goodharts are an odd bunch, individually and as a whole. Smart, funny, quirky, caring, occasionally on the outside looking in.
Blog Post Outtake
Me: You should see the picture. They don’t look good.
Martha: Does it make me evil if I want to see the picture?
Me: No, it makes you a Goodhart woman.
Martha: Oh good, I’d rather be a Goodhart woman than evil.
Me: Though our dad would say they are one in the same.