By Jeanine DeHoney
My late mother Evelyn’s bedroom was her sweetest sanctuary especially after my father died. It wasn’t a large room; she had given that room to me and my sister as children for our twin beds. Her bedroom was the first room off of the hallway in our fifth floor apartment. I never remember my mother’s bedroom door being closed. I’m sure that it was as a child but when I became an adult it was always open. If I close my eyes I can still conjure up her image; like a still life painting in a colorful caftan and I see serenity mapped across her face.
I also see the white expanse of my mother’s walls. Sometimes I feel guilty that I never put a beautiful painting on them, something with roses or a gorgeous seascape to make them less stark. Sometimes I wished I had pleaded with her to put her wedding picture prominently above her head in a gilded frame so she could remember when my father and her were dreamers. I think now that would have given her smiles in her sleep especially when she became ill.
Still, though unadorned, her bedroom was the most welcoming room in my childhood apartment. The kitchen with its sunny yellow walls was a place scented with soul food aromas and gave us delicious sustenance, but it was her bedroom that I and the rest of her family who loved her came bounding into.
There was a wood armoire on the right of her Queen sized bed. There were old greeting cards, chintzy wedding favors, pictures of her grandchildren and great grand’s, and her favorite bottle of perfume, White Diamond. There were sheer curtains in her window that danced whenever there was even a slight breeze. And there was a television stand that held a small television she kept on all day and night, at night the volume being a mere whisper but loud enough for her not to feel so alone when she couldn’t fall asleep.
When my father’s body no longer was to the left of her, she filled his side with things. Magazines, writing pads, her box of Lorna Doone cookies and her wig that she brushed and set in huge pink curlers as if she was waiting to go out with my father on another date. Any time I visited her she pushed her items to the far end so I would have enough room to prop my chin in my hand and stretch across her bed so we could talk or watch television.
That side on the left of her where my father used to be became my side. When my sister was there sometimes I hated to move for fear of losing my place on her bed. It was the best vantage point to see my mother. It was like being a child watching a magician pull a rabbit out of his hat. But it was my mother who was pulling the rabbit out of the hat and creating magical moments for me with her stories, her memories and her wise sayings.
So it is because of her that the place I tend to long for the most is my bedroom. In it is a king sized bed my husband and I have enough room to make snow angels on when we need space and curl up contentedly together when we need the warmth of each other’s body. A collage portrait of pictures of my mother and two aunts with inspirational words I made and framed hangs to the right of my bed. And there is a night table with my favorite books; the Bible, Anne Lamott’s Plan B, Terry McMillan’s Getting To Happy and The Little Engine That Could. The latter because I realize how great a motivator that book is for me as a writer. And yes there is a television, much bigger than my mother’s, but not a flat screen that I too leave on to create sound even if it is a whisper when I can’t sleep.
My bedroom like my mother’s has an open door policy. I love for others to kick their shoes off, hop on board, rest, laugh and stay awhile. I love for others to grab a pillow, pound it until its comfortable enough to lay their head on and fill me in with the goings on in their life. Food is allowed too. My only insistence is that you clean up your crumbs afterwards.
It is a bedroom scented with remembrances of conversations, both good and bad, sometimes shocking like when a friend told me about being abused, but always where one can open their heart. It is a place where healing takes place and lessons are learned, where sorrow turns into joy come morning even if it is many mornings later. It is a place that is shadowy with my mother’s persona for I exude her from gestures to tones. It is where just like my mother I pull the rabbit out of the hat, and create magical moments as for someone I love.
Jeanine DeHoney is a freelance writer and former early childhood assistant teacher and art enrichment teacher from Brooklyn. She is a contributing writer for Esteem Yourself E-magazine.