Emma and I spent three days in the mountains to visit my mother, Emma’s grandmother, a crazy woman. It’s funny how much we all want to believe our need to have our parents in our lives overrides our knowledge that they aren’t who we want them to be and we probably aren’t to them what they wanted us to be. My mother loves her dog probably more than any living creature. Her home is surrounded by photos of her dogs and her pets yet there aren’t many of her children or grandchildren but for a few here or there. My mother likes having a clean home and it’s as if the neatness is maintained there will be no despair. Panic sets in when the mess threatens the serenity of the uncluttered surfaces.

Emma orbited around her, chattering at her as they cooked together, and took short trips over to a large spread of land my mother invested in with an oil well installed on it. That one oil well, especially now, brings her the majority of her income now that real estate is taking a hit. Emma drove with her over there to turn on the oil and then they came back, all the while Emma chattered at her and she chattered back. Emma, I’ve come to realize, is someone who gets along with most people.

The heat wave chased us indoors for most of the weekend but on Sunday Emma cajoled Grandma into swimming with her. I’d almost forgotten that my mother walks around nude. A lot. She’s almost 70. Her idea of swimming with Emma was her swimming half-naked and not only thinking nothing of it but ridiculing anyone who thought it was weird or embarrassing. Before long, Emma had taken off her bikini top because Grandma was doing it. I tried to avert my eyes and I kept my judgments to myself; if I had made a big deal out of it Emma would surely pick up on it and then I’d have to explain myself out of being painted like a puritan. My sisters would back me up but they weren’t there. And we couldn’t make fun of her, which is our favorite thing to do, or of them.

So there my mother was, her deflated boobs bobbing up to the water’s surface, upstaging all other things happening that day. I tried to think nothing of it, honest I did. After all, aren’t we supposed to teach our kids to embrace their nudity? Well maybe in the 70s. I am pausing here to reflect on how gross it is that some pedo is probably going to do some search that will land him to this post. Gross.

My mother was always nude, though, when we were young and it always bothered us. She would tromp out nude while our friends were over and she seemed to think nothing of it. She herself is horrified by her own body, which makes her exhibitionism even weirder. I myself have never figured it out – what is so wrong with a little modesty after all?

I tried to take my mind off it by remembering what was so great about my ex-boyfriend. I thought that he was just a cool guy that I loved so much. I loved everything about him except his raging temper. I didn’t know then that he was a pathological liar and thus, I fell for his charm. I tried to imagine what it would have been like if he were here. I remembered back to the last time he was up visiting and how he’d always wear long pants and his leather jacket. I don’t think I ever saw him in shorts.

I was thinking about the good things because the bad things have gotten me nowhere and left me awash in bitterness.  And I realized, for better or worse, that I loved him fully. I loved every tooth in his mouth and every vanishing hair on his balding head. I think it was something to have experienced, no matter how awful it ended.

Why was this thought occuring to me out there by the pool while my half-naked mother bobbed around the pool? I think because it was vivid enough to make me forget what was happening in real time. Love upstages all.