16. The Business of Women – Part One
Posted on August 24, 2020
When we were in our early twenties and unmarried, Nina and I would sit outside with our mom, drink white wine out of Polish crystal, watch squirrels give chase across the low brick wall that lined her patio. Gouda and apple slices and English water crackers would appear. We’d be dressed hippie casual in jeans, boots and gauzy pastel shirts, shades of mango, yellow, lilac, and Mom would have on creased slacks, flat sandals, and a silk shirt in an elegant subtle pattern of browns and tans, like a pintail duck, gliding across the surface. We smoked different brands: Kents for mom, menthol lights for my sister and me. We shared one lighter, one ashtray. We didn’t worry about our lungs even though Mom had been quarantined in her twenties with tuberculosis. Our dad didn’t smoke; he’d be inside watching the nightly news, letting the girls talk, like girls do.
Even through our thirties, when we’d come for dinner with our husbands, Nina and I gravitated to the patio, where we felt more sophisticated, more seasoned drinking wine with our mother. We had kids and no longer smoked, but mom did. Our husbands would watch the news with Dad and let us have our Sadie Hawkins moment, as if this time was theirs to give before the real business of women making and serving men dinner. Over drinks, our mom seemed to enjoy hearing her daughters chatter about our jobs, our travels, our giggly re-hashing of high school misdeeds and hi-jinx, the PG version, because our mother did not like to be foiled.
And now, Nina and I are in our early sixties. Mom is in her early eighties and no longer drinking or smoking, even though the home has a daily and crowded happy hour for their seniors, with celery sticks, Ritz crackers and pimento cheese, a full bar. Mom eats in her room if she eats at all. She wears soft faded sweats and bulbous shoes that put no pressure on her sore feet.
Ink on cold pressed paper
32″ x 20″