I suppose that anyone who has known me for over ten minutes, most likely is knowledgeable of the fact that Halloween is not my “thing”. Even as a little girl, I did not like costumes. I did not like having my face made up and calling attention to myself. Luckily, I began dance lessons at the tender age of two, so I always had a tutu around to dress up like a ballerina. And my little black cowgirl outfit with the white fringe from “Ragtime Cowboy Joe“. Or, my blue costume from “Five Foot Two, Eyes of Blue”, so I could dress up in my big blue bonnet and be a Dresden Doll for the holiday. I was a small child and it seemed like I always got swallowed up in a sea of huge witches capes and black hats and yards of billowy white ghosts. I did not like to look funny or scary. I had zero confidence for that type of shenanigans! I enjoyed seeing everyone else’s costumes and admired their guts to have dark paint smeared on their faces or teeth blacked out. Not for me. Imagine how mortified I was each year when my Mom dressed up for her bowling team party. She would smear honey – gooey sticky honey, on her cheeks and chin and then rub COFFEE GROUNDS into the honey so it looked like a scraggly beard. To make matters worse, she would find an old stained shirt of Daddy’s that she had used with furniture polish and wear that ugly, dirty looking, wrinkled thing over some torn pants. And then, much to my horror, she would mess up her thick black hair and then Aqua Net it to hold the entire mess in place. She would get in the car, windows rolled down, and wave to anyone who looked her way. She always came home with some sort of prize for her winning look. Apparently I was the only one who did not appreciate her “costume”.
So, when I had children of my own, I was always in a panic. I didn’t want them to be a plain Jane and not be up to par with their classmates and friends. I experimented with different looks, but always came back to a clown. I just had zero talent for any other look. We always had something around the house to make their shoes look like clown shoes or an over-sized tie and shirt. Red lipstick on the cheeks and mouth and some eyeliner tear drops and eyebrows completed the transformation. Clowns. I tried something new every year, but I admit it – they always looked like a clown.
I never decorated the house save for the pumpkins that the boys and their Dad carved – front on center on the porch of wherever we lived. Mom and Dad would turn most of their house into a haunted house with dark lighting and cold spaghetti “brains” and jello “guts” and peeled grape “eyeballs”. They took great delight in scaring the living hell out of me while working on the house for several days. They had stuff in every one of the five bedrooms and, needless to say, I had many sleepless nights until Halloween was over. I did not like scaring people and I did not like being scared. I had enough of that on a daily basis while little brothers, Mark and Larry, would hide in my closet or in the bathroom, waiting for me so they could jump out or yell and watch me have a panic attack. Yeah, those were sure fun days. My brother-in-law had great fun digging out some dirt in the front yard of his Tucson home and, laying as flat as he could, and would raise up in the dark of the night and scare the bejesus out of the neighbors. How sad it was one Halloween evening, watching little kids walk a huge arc around the front of Dan’s and Robin’s house out of fear of the crazy guy in the dark. Robin always had lots of good candy left over!
So, here it is, October, and I will be damned if Halloween is once again upon me. Now I have grandkids and have enjoyed entertaining them on Halloween from Tristan and Chase to Mateo and Marluce and now Max and Abby. I have never had the chance to spend a Halloween with Quinn, but perhaps one day. So, Max comes to spend the day last week and flatly states, Nana, you need to decorate for Halloween”. Well, I did decorate (or at least I thought I had) by displaying a cute little pumpkin from Safeway where someone had artfully drawn a cute face with red lips and long eyelashes. And, if that was not enough, voila, look at my cute Halloween owl in the front garden!
Max gave me a patronizing smile and a soft “oh”, but I could tell he was not very impressed. Then he said, “you should see our house Nana! We have skeletons and pumpkins and decorations inside the house and outside of the house.” I assumed from that statement, that the kids house had more than an “indoor” pumpkin and a tin owl stuck in the dirt. “Come on, Nana! We need to decorate!” Looking into those clear blue eyes, I had no choice but to get in the car and high-tail it to the store before Max came back the next day.
I was NOT going to spend a ton of money on a holiday that I do not even really consider a holiday. Afterall, November 1 begins “my” holiday season of Thanksgiving-Christmas-Epiphany. THAT is my kind of holiday and I have always said that Halloween is just in the way. But, little kids and big kid enjoy the dark holiday, so who am I to quibble? I decided to make some melting witches. Some black pointy hats, black gauze, black and green and purple ribbons and hang them from the courtyard lights and presto! we have melted witches. A couple long pairs of Halloween socks filled with some squished up plastic bags made for the stylish footwear left from the melting witches. Max and Poppa found some orange and green lights in our Christmas light stash and I replaced some clear ones with the colorful ones to add a little flair! I got 5 little battery lit pumpkins which max has had a great time arranging them and rearranging them! Add two Sassy Witches to the front door, and we have the final product. Not going to win any prize, but seeing my grandson’s eyes light up and the smile on his face is my blue ribbon.
Happy Halloween, everyone. I am going to start getting my Thanksgiving-Christmas-Epiphany decorations ready. November 1 will be here before you know it!
|Oct 2003 Kerri & Connie at a Halloween Concert in Tucson|
|We picked up a couple of Wizards after the concert.|
|Oct 1998 a 6 year old Tristan sans costume sorts out her bounty at our dining table.|
|October 2004 baby Mateo visits his first ever Pumpkin Patch and tries a taste of straw!
|October 2007 Katia and little princess Marluce|
|Jeffry inherited his mother’s talent for costumes.|
|October 2003 at the Dunham halloween Spooktacular Dinner|
I still consider Colorado to be my home state. I was born there, attended school there, and lived there for 32 years before moving to Arizona. 5 of the 6 kids in my family were born in St Mary’s Hospital in Grand Junction. (Jay was born in Chicago while Mom and Dad moved around with the US Navy. This is where the family gathered for Christmases and Graduations. Jay and Larry have both passed, however, I believe I speak for them as well when I say that Grand Junction is still home. Happy Colorado Day.
The day was November 26th 1988 – the Saturday after Thanksgiving. Mom, Dad and Grandma Tabor had the motorhome packed with their travel belongings after a few days of visiting and enjoying Thanksgiving dinner with them and my special “little sister” guest, Leisa. We had managed to fit in a huge holiday feast; the requisite shopping on Friday after, and of course, several rounds of Bingo at Papago Bingo. I had stuffed the traveling refrig with container after container of Thanksgiving leftovers. This was a special one as I had never known my mother to leave her home for that particular holiday. This was the first and only one in my life. One year she was sequestered on a murder trial as a jurist, and the judge had ordered the jury dismissed just for that day and they had to return to sequestration Thanksgiving night. Mom had made a detailed list of everything I needed to buy a week prior to the holiday with detailed instructions on how to prepare what and how and when – like I didn’t already know after being her right hand gal since the age of 10. Even on a several week jury trial, she still insisted that the family dinner would be held on North 18th Street, and no amount of reasoning was going to change her mind. And so it was. So, I was quite surprised when she called and said they were coming for Thanksgiving. Mom had suffered a bad bout of the flu in several weeks prior and I thought maybe she was just worn out. So, I didn’t question it. I was excited to host Thanksgiving at my house in Tucson. Of course she insisted that everything would be just as though we were in Grand Junction. She would do all of the cooking and baking. Gram was in charge of peeling 10 pounds of potatoes and I was charged with setting and decorating the table. I didn’t give a second thought to Mom’s comments here and there. “I do not ever want to die in Tucson.” When I said what an odd thing to say, she explained that we had that doctor here who transplanted hearts. And what if he took hers out and replaced it with someone who was mean? Would those unprincipled traits be transferred to her? I kind of just shrugged it off with a smile. We were sitting in the living room relaxing one afternoon, watching an old rerun of Designing Women where the ladies had designed a New Orleans style send off for a young friend who had died of Aids. Mom stated that she wanted her funeral to be like that with upbeat music and lots of flowers. Maybe I should have paid more attention.
After a nice breakfast at Coco’s, the three musketeers were on their way home. I didn’t envy them. The drive from Tucson to Grand unction is almost unbearable for me; hours of dry dusty desert with no cell or radio reception. It is, nicely put, miserable. They didn’t seem to mind. As long as Mom was in her motorhome, she was good. Cristopher was out with friends. Ricky was at a U of A game enjoying his time with friends in the kids Knothole Section. Bob and I were set to enjoy a movie night out with 4 year old Jeffry in tow. As the movie time slowly approached, Bob reminded me that we needed to get on our way. But, I felt uneasy and did not want to leave the house that night. When I relayed that to my husband, he just nodded okay and went about his evening. He was used to me changing my mind so nothing unusual about that.
If memory serves, it was around 7 in the early evening when the phone begin to ring. It was still in the time where the phone hung on the wall. Bob held the phone out saying it was my dad and if they had car problems, I was to find out where they were and he would be on his way. Before I put the phone to my ear, I quietly said to Bob “honey, my Mom is dead,” He just looked at me, admonishing me with his stare about the inappropriateness of making such a comment. As I lifted the phone to my hear, I could hear my Dad’s voice saying “Mom’s gone”.
I felt the tears as Daddy explained the chain of events leading up to this call. And then the blur of the night began. Laundry had to be done for five people making the 780 mile trek to western Colorado; arrangements had to be made for Jeffry to stay with my Tucson friend, Peggy for a week. Calls had to be made to my siblings. And in a flurry of tears and questions and travel arrangements, we finally fell into bed after midnight. And then came the long and drawn out sobs as Bob held me tightly until finally exhaustion and sleep took over. And this day was over.
My Mom was gone.