“Why don’t you ask that woman you slept with? She must know where your kimono is.”

1956. A Diets-Vermeer family photo taken in Den Haag, Holland, a few months before destiny brought us to Ojai, California,  the land of sunshine and orange orchards

1956. A Diets-Vermeer family photo taken in Den Haag, Holland, a few months before destiny brought us to Ojai, California, the land of sunshine and orange orchards

This morning, while wiping up the pool of pee Chico left in front of the sliding glass door which was closed so the cats would not be eaten by coyotes, I noticed how I constantly remind myself that no one on this Earth has an easy life. If one fine morning an angel with a big house and a ranch for Honey scooped up my whole menagerie I’d have a lickety split clean house in 24-hours and time, energy, and cash to escape my monastic life. But like Gilda Radner famously said, “If it’s not one thing, it’s another.” As many others have pointed out, the only thing we can really control is our response to whatever comes down the chute. And I would not trade my troubles for anyone else’s.

Speaking of troubles, when I went to visit my old parents Sunday afternoon my dad was turning the house upside down looking for his kimono. Nothing makes him madder then when someone does not put an item back where it belongs. He kept muttering, “I can’t understand it. It’s supposed to be here.” My mom just sits undisturbed, with a slightly evil amused look on her face, while he looks behind furniture, lifts pillows, and rummages through the closet. She keeps right on reading de krant, the same Dutch newspaper she was reading my last visit and the one before that. Then suddenly, as he paces past her she looks up and jokes, “Why don’t you ask that woman you slept with? She must know where your kimono is.”

Turns out my dad needs his kimono because my niece, who is going to Beauty School, is coming to cut his hair. The niece arrives with a big black doctor-like bag filled with barber equipment. The kimono is found and she escorts my dad to the back porch where she sits him in chair and gets to work. And just like when I was a child I breathe a sigh of relief that the ogre is out of the house. I quickly sneak several slices of cheese to divide between Honey and Chico. I make myself a nice snack without him asking me three times if I washed my hands or telling me to use another plate.

When my mom gets wind that her husband is getting a hair cut she exclaims, “But then there will be nothing left!” She does not like that he’s doing this without her permission. She rises from her easy chair, grabs her walker, and then changes her mind and sits back down. But she turns her head toward the back porch and yells, “You can sleep by yourself till it grows back! And if it doesn’t grow back in a week you can buy a wig.”

When my dad comes back into the house he’s all smiles, with a spring in his step, looking all fresh and clean. “I feel so good, ” he says, over and over again, “I feel like a new man.” I make my escape early, guilt-free, while my niece and her older sister are still there, infusing my old parents with their happy, youthful energy. . .

(My mom, Maria Vermeer Diets, 92-years old on February 8, 2013)

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