Rose Bower

For as early as I can remember in the 1950s, my mother was crocheting squares.  There were white squares with an “x” in them and, my favorite, squares with a three-dimensional rose in them. As a housewife caring for foster babies and having babies of her own about every two years, it took her years to finish the project. I remember watching her crochet needles flying as she seemed not to notice she was doing it.  She also quipped to friends or neighbors that she crocheted to calm herself down so she would not beat the children. I don’t know if that worked or not.  We sure got the paddle often enough.  Though, maybe it would have been more often if she had not calmed herself down with a rose square. What made the beautiful project so thrilling to me was that she would tell me that it would be my bedspread when I grew up. I remember how beautiful I thought it was when she finally pieced it together and put it on her bed.

My mother loved babies.  That is one trait I can say I inherited from her. I was the oldest child, but don’t recall how she loved me as a baby.  When I was a young child, she would tell me that I was an ugly baby.  She told me that, when presented with her newborn, she told the nurses, “Eeewe,  that ugly thing isn’t mine!” I don’t know why she told me this.

As the family grew and the marriage decayed, perhaps my mother viewed her children as the ropes that anchored her to my father. Maybe five rambunctious children would wear most mothers down. Or, maybe she just could not relate to older children as easily as she could to babies.  I know I had opinions and a smart mouth. By my teen years, it was very clear that she hated him and we children, by some extension, were part of it.

My mother and I never had that close mother/daughter bond that many of my friends seem to have.  She was very critical and I never measured up to her expectations. If I didn’t have such a long nose, I might be cute. My fine blonde hair would not hold a Shirley Temple curl no matter how tightly she pin-curled it.  Braids that brought tears to my eyes were pencil thin. Why wasn’t I a cheerleader like Virginia Chaney? I was rebuffed often enough that I learned not to go to her with my problems or share any of my secrets with her. An expression of sentiment was always scoffed or ridiculed. No, we were not close.

Then, as an adult, the first of our lineage to attend college, have a career earning “real money” by my parent’s standards, nothing I accomplished earned me any compliments or accolades from my mother. In fact, her remarks always sounded like jealousy. I have been able to do things and go places she never did.  From her comments, I am sure it was jealousy.

As Mama got older and gained weight, she would often give me some articles of clothing she no longer fit into. One day Andy and I were visiting and she had a pile of clothing she was getting rid of and asked if I wanted any of them.  I saw a pair of shorts and tried them on.  Mama quipped, “That doesn’t look as bad as I thought it would”. She left the room for a few minutes and Andy said, “That is the nicest thing I’ve ever heard her say to you”. I was stunned.  I truly hadn’t noticed. But I could not think of a single thing she had said that was nicer.  I tried for days before admitting he was right.

Sometime in the 1990s, I bought a new bed and Mama gave me the Rose-Bower crocheted bedspread to put on it. I was nearly fifty years old when I got my bedspread. Then, when we sold our house and moved on the boat, I took the bedspread back to my mother’s house for safekeeping. Later still, when Mama put her house up for sale, we took our possessions we had stored there and put them in a rented storage unit. We had furniture and household goods scattered among family and friends and moved things around several times during our boating life.   I lost track of the bedspread.

In 2010, Mama told us she had breast cancer. It had already reached the stage where there was nothing to do about it.  She had never had a mammogram even though both her mother and her grandmother had died of cancer.  Mama had known for six months before she told us.  I thought she was ashamed. We had a small motorhome and parked it in her driveway so we could help her in her last few months of life.  After a few weeks, she told us to leave.  We bothered her. So we left to volunteer in The Great Smoky Mountains National Park for July and August.  I called her every weekend when we went to town for groceries and had a phone signal and asked if we should come back.  My sister Barbara went to stay with her.  I was gratified to learn that it was not just me; Barbara bothered her too. Finally, in mid August, Mama said we could come back even though she was not dead yet.

She was very weak but was comfortable enough with copious amounts of morphine and oxycodone. One night she awoke me with coughing and I went into her room.  We both sat on the edge of the bed for a while and she told me she was sorry that she had not been a better mother.  I assured her that she did the best that she knew how.  You can’t do better than that.

Another night I asked her where my bedspread was.  I couldn’t remember if it was in the storage unit or in her house, along with a stack of homemade quilts made by my grandmother. She told me the bedspread was in the small bedroom on the closet shelf. A day or two later, Mama died.  We knew the time was close so there were children and grandchildren in the bedroom with her.  We were watching the movie “A League of Their Own” on the television. I was sitting on the bed next to Mama with my arm around her shoulders when I noticed that her breathing had changed.  We turned off the movie and paid attention to Mama.  She was not awake.  Her breathing slowed and then stopped.  We called the Hospice nurse who arrived a while later.  Then, in about two hours, people came to pick up her body and take her to George Washington Hospital medical school, where Mama had donated her body. She did not want a funeral or a memorial service.  Poof!  Mama was gone. I noticed that no one had cried.

During the process of handling Mama’s estate, beginning with clearing out the house, I saw that the closet shelf in the small bedroom only had one quilt on it.  No bedspread.  It must have been in the storage unit.

In the ensuing years, I looked in the storage unit several times, but it was so full of boxes and furniture that it was impossible to know where the bedspread was.  But Mama had said it was in the small bedroom. What happened to it?  Did she sell it?  Did she give it to someone else?  Did someone visiting simply take it while Mama was sick?  Was it safely in the storage unit and I just forgot where it ended up?  The questions nagged me for years.

Now it is near the end of 2017. We sold the boat and moved into a motorhome for six years.  And now we have moved into our retirement house.  Busy as I was during the emptying of the storage unit and the loading of the truck, I kept looking for the bedspread.  I thought I may have gotten a glimpse of it once.  When we unloaded the truck at our new home, I watched for the bedspread.  I searched plastic bags as I recalled putting it in one with a zipper, one a bedspread might be packaged in at a store.

These past few weeks have been stressful.  Even good things can be stressful and I have been working very hard, exhausting myself trying to get the house organized.  What I thought was the bedspread turned out to be some lace curtains I took from Mama’s house.  I told myself the bedspread is probably in one of the many boxes filling half the garage. But I wasn’t sure.

My back has been telling me I was working too hard.  I told Andy that I was not going to do anything today.  We went to the Orlando Friends meeting this morning.  Andy said that I would at least sit still for an hour there. I did.  While I was sitting there in silence, I realized that I had been overdoing it and it wasn’t just sore muscles.  I had a heartache that was eating my insides. I had become obsessed with the Rose Bower bedspread.  It had been nagging me for years now.  I recalled visiting an old Florida farmhouse a few years ago and seeing a small Rose Bower cloth draped over a chair.  My heart ached when I saw it. It was just a bedspread.  I had to let it go and get over it.

After rise of meeting, I was telling a man how stressed I have been with the move and the missing bedspread. We agreed that, until all the boxes in the garage are opened, the mystery will not be solved.  I shed a tear as I told him, it wasn’t just a bedspread; it was the one, nicest thing my mother ever did for me. Then at lunch, I told Andy about spending my whole meeting for worship focused on the bedspread.  I cried all the paper napkins wet. Andy was moved to put an end to this bedspread thing once and for all.  We would check the boxes in the garage.  If we didn’t find the bedspread, we would call any family member who might have taken (or been given) it.  My niece Jessica loves vintage things.  Maybe Mama gave it to Jessica.  Or maybe to my Aunt Jane.

Andy went straight to the garage as soon as we got home.  I went outside to plant my herb garden just outside our bedroom sliding-glass doors.  First, I had to push the mulch around to find the plastic irrigation pipes.  A light rain began to fall as I set out dill, Rosemary, mint, and chives.  Andy came to the door with a mattress pad.  No, that not what I wanted.  It is white with red roses on it. Can’t that man tell a bedspread from a mattress pad? I dug more furiously and was soaking wet from the rain.

The next time Andy came to the door, he held up a clear plastic case with the Rose Bower bedspread in it.  I burst into tears and went in the door with the trowel in hand.  I was sobbing so hard I was shaking. Bewildered Andy said I was crying when I didn’t know where it was and now I was crying when I did. I could not tell him I was relieved.  I had to calm down first. I wasn’t happy that he found the bedspread.  I was happy to know that Mama had not given it to someone else after she told me it was for me when I grew up. I didn’t want to think she had, but I didn’t know.  Maybe she sold it.  Maybe she didn’t want me to have it after all. I was such a disappointment to her. Was that her way of telling me so?

NO.  She really did want me to have it.  I did have it all along.  All these years, I have been fretting for no reason other than I couldn’t remember storing the bedspread in the storage unit. Maybe Mama is somewhere laughing at me right now. Ridiculing me for being so stupid.

I kicked some of the stuff on the floor under the bed to put a white blanket and the bedspread on it.  She made it for a full bed so it does not fit my queen size mattress.

Some squares are coming apart in a few places so I will have to do some mending.  Otherwise, it is in pretty good shape and still vibrant white.

It’s not just a bedspread, Mama.






Painted Patio

I love to see these big trucks in action.  It doesn’t happen very often though.  This is the first time I’ve seen them unloading drywall.

The painter, who had said he would do the job on Monday, finally painted the patio on Thursday. I suppose he was busy at other houses. We did not go out there for fear it might not be dry.

That was the only change we saw today. There is just not that much more to be done.

I noticed this frog on the way out the driveway to the car.  The picture is not in focus.  The frog is gone, but its imprint is still there. It reminds me of the hollows made in the ash from Mount Vesuvius in Pompei.



My alarm clock this morning was a chainsaw right outside my bedroom window.  I didn’t have to look out to know what they were doing. It was the tree fallen between our two RVs during Topical Storm Irma.

One man was wielding the chainsaw and the other two were feeding it into the chipper. I was so surprised how little sawdust was on the ground when they were done. It was not even a pile.


We Have Walls

A few years ago, on the Alaska trip, we stopped in Vancouver, BC and I bought a small First Nations print of a fish, bear, bird, etc. superimposed on each other.  A common motif for a souvenir. Andy looked at it and asked, “What are you going to do with that?” My pitiful reply was, “One day I will have a wall”.

Well, folks, that day has arrived. Thanks to the work of the drywall crew today, we have a house full of walls.  There are not enough walls though.  The dining room has only one usable wall.  The family room has one big wall that will be the place for the t.v.  I wanted a lot of windows, but they sure use up a lot of wall space!

The first thing I saw when I walked into the house this morning was this beautiful purple drywall (or Sheetrock, as my father called it) leaning against the dining room wall. It is the water-resistant stuff for the bathrooms.  I LOVE that color!  Too bad it is going to be covered up.

The drywall crew was just getting started.  The first sheet of wall went up in the master bedroom closet.

They worked their way all around the house, putting up the top half of the walls. That was the stilts-required portion.

Just look at that color in the shower stall! He is cutting out the window after the sheet was installed.

He cut it out in sections so he would have something to grab.

These two are working on the top half of our bedroom.

They had leaned the stack against the family room wall.  I like this photo because it includes the entire five-man team.

There was a request for more of this guy.

The upper wall of the garage was tricky in the alcove for the heating and cooling system.

I loved watching this guy cutting the arches in the foyer and dining room. There was some metal trim there to guide his saw.  He is not old and gray; that is gypsum dust in his hair.

And, voila!  There’s an arch.

The top of all the walls was done about lunch time.  Rather than miss any of the action, I proposed we run out to Subway for lunch. When we got back, the crew was eating their lunch. They were all on the phone.

We took our folding chairs from the back seat of the car and set them up out back, in the lanai. That way, we could sit and rest between photographing and supervising.

I actually did do a wee bit of supervising today.  I noticed them pulling wires through the drywall on the large family room wall.  Those wires were for the vanity lights in the adjacent bathroom.  No one spoke English, but I managed to get my point across and they changed the wires.  I understand how they made the mistake.  The electrician had coiled the wires on the family-room side of the board.

It was very quiet inside after lunch.  I got up from my chair and peeked inside. Siesta! There are four sacked-out workers in this picture.  You can barely see the one outside the front door. They were awakened at 2 o’clock to resume work.

I have to tell you, from experience, that is was probably 110 degrees in the port-o-potty today.  Maybe more. It didn’t smell very good either.

The workers brought a microwave to heat up their lunches.

The family-room wall is done. No stilts were required in the afternoon.

They used the wall to lean the boards against while they measured and cut. Andy said the bearded one is the boss; he told everyone else what to do.  I didn’t see much of him as he was working in small spaces where it was impossible to get many pictures.

It’s a beautiful shower stall already.

Here, the breakfast nook is finished.

I got a big kick out of these two attaching drywall to the top of the door opening.  They walked their buckets sideways in unison as they worked their way along the door. Hip action again.

This was my favorite part of the day.  The kitchen counter. It will hold the kitchen sink and have the dishwasher underneath.

The measurer/cutter held the drywall in position and pressed it against the curve as the one with the power screw drive tacked it down.

Then the singing drywall hanger trimmed off the excess to counter level.  As he cut, the upper portion went back to straight.

Then he finished tacking it down.

Next, is the demonstration of how good the measurer/cutter is.  He carried in a sheet of the proper length for the back side of the counter, that will form the back side of the cabinets and drawers.

He held the sheet in front of the counter and peered over the top to line up with the plumbing while cutting holes.

Look at that perfect fit, not a large gaping hole for all four pipes like I would have done but nice neat holes, just the right size.

Then, they pulled the wiring through and screwed that sheet into place.

It was really hard to get a good picture of this guy; he worked in the bathroom and closets where I could barely see him.  Here, he was waiting for his measurer/cutter to return with the next piece.  I coaxed him to smile for me.

This was his measurer/cutter.  This was near the end of the day when he was carrying scraps out to the dumpster.  He was also a good-looking man. Too bad I didn’t get more pictures of him.

This may have been the last piece to go up, at least it was the last piece in our bedroom.

This picture is for Dave Ranlet.  Andy said Dave will remember their professor who advised his students.  (Something like) “When you visit a company, check out their dumpster.  If it is bigger than (what Dave?), they are making junk.” What was his name?  What did he say?

Our boys were not making junk today.  I was very impressed with the speed, but more so with the care they took to fit every piece as neatly and tightly as they could.  We left at six in the evening and they were still working.

Andy observed that the crew does a good job for everyone rather than do shoddy work and gypsum.