Around Christmas time, my sister Lindy and I came home from school to once again find the kitchen table loaded with cooking equipment. There was a large saucepan and a mixer with what looked like frothy white frosting sticking to the beaters.
Don’t touch anything.
came Mother’s familiar refrain.
I’m making candles.
And so she was. She made large pillar candles with all sorts of glitter for her friends.
Sometimes she made one for our teachers, but never did she ask if we wanted to be involved or if we would prefer that she put away the candle making supplies and actually make a normal Christmas treat for her family.
This was to be a pattern throughout Mother’s life, a pattern that my sister and I quickly became accustomed to: Mother would suddenly, without warning or hint, become rabidly committed to a new hobby or craft. All else in the household fell by the wayside as, in this case, Mother made candle after candle. All for other people.
It sounds sad, and in a way it is, but in another way my sister and I became the resilient, independent women we are today because of Mother’s maniacal focus on cornering the market on homemade candles in our town. And my sister and I both knew that it was only a matter of time before Mother’s focus on candle-making would wane, to be replaced with an intermission of alcohol and pills until she found her next hobby.