It is 1974. It’s the weekend. According to mom it’s a yard work day.
My brother Scott and I mow and edge the front lawn, trim the grass around the trees. Done!
We move to the back yard. First we are dispatched to trim the plants around the patio while mom sits astride the footstool I made in shop class. She wears rubber kitchen gloves to pull weeds, carefully working an area until it is clear. Then she picks up the stool and moves over a foot, maybe two. Then she starts the process again, the methodical mission to eradicate all weeds.
“Are we done?”
“No. Now sweep up the trimmings and then the entire patio.”
When we complain she goes into her standard routine.
“Your friends like it when I give them things to do.”
“Oh, no. That’s one of the reasons they like coming over here. Because I put them TO WORK.”
This is not true. None of our friends has ever confided a secret desire to perform domestic tasks at our house because somehow it’s more fun when my mom asks them.
Scott and I do the sweeping up.
“NOW are we done?”
Nope. She picks up the footstool and moves in for the kill on the next square foot of weeds. We are instructed to hose off the patio.
“We just SWEPT it!”
Her theory is get rid of the dirt so it doesn’t make ‘mud’ when we hose it off. I get the hose, attach the nozzle with the pistol grip. Scott moves the patio furniture around as I hose down the Palos Verdes stones my father put in.
Mom gets up to move the stool just as I finish.
“Are we done NOW?”
“Now you can help pull the rest of the weeds in the lawn.”
I lose it. I am standing there looking at my mom, holding the pistol grip of the pressure nozzle. I squeeze the trigger. A stream of water shoots across the yard. She is instantly soaked. I figure I am in for it.
She throws her arms across her chest and turns sideways, then throws out one hand to block the stream from the nozzle. And she starts laughing. The more I spray, the harder she laughs. I never saw her laugh so hard.
God, I miss her.