I often write about my mom because she’s my mixed-up muse as I work out my dumpster fire of feelings about her. Yes…her epic antics, hysterics, mental health, and addiction issues were the connective tissue of my childhood…navigating her moods and madness was a chore.
Life with Sue was akin to traveling blindfolded; no matter how much I wanted predictability, there was none of that. Inspired, brilliant and broken, Sue’s trademark impulsivity charmed the world, despite her flaws. Who doesn’t want to slow down to take a gander at what’s she up to NOW? Not channeling Shakespeare exactly, but still…Sue behaved accordingly, “All the world’s a stage…” No matter the adventure du jour, Sue found accomplices, compadres, and willing sidekicks. She was the funny as hell reckless woman. What WILL she do next?
The older I get, the easier it is for me to summon the comedy – those laugh out loud moments previously eclipsed by the hurt she caused. I’m reminded they’re there. Like Halloween…and my recent perusal of photos long forgotten…resulting in welcome ‘crack myself up’ moments. Let me introduce you to Halloween…Sue Style. See below…
Mom and dad together in their cheer outfits. Handmade pompons and all.
Sue’s custom cheerleader outfits for dad and his best buddies (my papa’s on the left).
And finally…Halloween Flintstone style? My folks are on the right and the apprehensive neighbors on the left? They knew to abandon the circus of Sue not long after Halloween that year.
“Holiday Season” for many folks in the U.S. begins with Thanksgiving but not for Sue. Nope. The high holidays began in earnest with Halloween. For the woman prone to excesses of food, drink and drama, Halloween was the perfect foil and jumpstart. Think about it. Halloween represents an opportunity for grown-up-dress-up and theatrics.
Sewing costumes and party planning were creative outlets for my tormented mom who had a painter’s heart but no confidence in her craft. Devising themes and rounding up the troupe of friends and neighbors to join in, Sue leapt headlong into Halloween planning in August of every year. I see it now as the creative distraction that it was. A way to avoid her own issues and feel a sense of purpose.
Sue’s devotion to the details kept her occupied (happily) for weeks as she made costumes by hand, as well as décor. We moved ten times in twelve years during my childhood and Halloween, no matter where we lived, was also Sue’s showcase to introduce our messy family to a new neighborhood. Wowza…what an intro. Some people just wave helloooo to new neighbors from the mailbox but not ‘fun Sue’.
Gregarious, gracious, and generous, new friends got swept up in Sue, but it was a tough act to sustain. People would come and go – drawn in, initially, by the spectacle of Sue – but they’d disappear, one by one, as they got closer to the flame and bite. Sue was lonely in these in-between times and that’s where addiction sat waiting for her.
But she rebounded – she always did. Just like an artist who adds tiny brushstrokes to a painting in progress, Sue would embellish the story of her life with half-truths every time we moved. Her life = her creation. Eventually the burden of hard-to-track lies, and alternate realities added to her dementia diagnosis. I just know it. What’s real and what’s distortion? It became harder and harder for Sue to distinguish as aging took hold.
For today, I’m enjoying the chuckles. The reminders that the family circus wasn’t all bad. Especially at Halloween.
Photo by Gratisography on Pexels.com