When our mother arrived in California, she quickly did what any slightly off-kilter person would do and that was to reinvent herself. No longer a desperate housewife, she transformed into something more like a starlet in waiting. Now Sandra Dee had already been discovered, so Mother had to instead pretend she was just as cute and perky and available as “Gidget”. In fact, her sister Martha always loved to call Mary, Sandra Dee.
Mother began rewriting history from the moment she stepped foot in southern California and never gave up on her new persona. Children? Maybe, but they were raised and fortunate enough to have completed college on her nickel. Since we rarely visited, she didn’t have to worry about us coming clean with the real story.
As you know, Mother loved keeping the post office in business and began writing about all of her adventures and freedom. Though of course she called this independence. Her tales about Thanksgiving at the beach made you feel as if Martha Stewart, Paula Deen and The Barefoot Contessa had catered the entire meal. She waxed eloquently about the feast which consisted of roasted turkey and all the trimmings and fabulous desserts.
Mother went on and on about how fabulous it was to live somewhere that you could actually eat outdoors in November. According to her, they gathered together and enjoyed watching the sun set in the ocean. She went on to say how they could hardly wait to replicate the scene at Christmas.
No mention of how much she missed her children. No mention of what all the friends gathered were named. No, another attempt by mother to let us know how happy she was without the trappings of a family.
Of course this scene only played out in her imagination and maybe in Good Housekeeping. Mother never had turkey at the beach. In fact, if she was actually at the beach on Thanksgiving, the only turkey there would have been her future victim (I mean husband) Tom.