Happy 75th, Mom!

This morning, my brother, Chet, reminded me it was Mom's birthday with a post online and he mentioned how Mom used to rearrange furniture. I wrote this essay a while back, but thought I'd share it in honor of her birthday today. Miss you, Mom!

Moving Furniture

For as long as I can remember, my mom rearranged the furniture. As a kid, I’d come home from school and find the couches and end tables on opposite sides of the room; the tv pulled out from the corner and pushed up against the wall, picture frames rehung where there had been white space before.

Weeks later, I’d find another formation, or maybe things would be moved back into their original spots. Sometimes Mom would flip flop the living room and dining room and, if I didn’t get used to them, I’d find myself running into a coffee table as I made my way to the kitchen for a glass of water. Eventually, I would get used to the new arrangement just in time for Mom to change it once again. 
Summer of 1992: photo credit Elayne or Robert Logan-Currie

As an adult, nearly every time I visited my parents’ home, Mom would have moved things around. Maybe Mom bought a new side table or lamp and this new piece would inspire a new version of the living room, dining room, or sitting room. I’d notice, and offer a compliment: “It looks so much bigger now,” or “I love how I can see the plum tree when I sit here,” or “I like the new chair.” But I never got too attached. Even if I liked a room’s set up, I knew this too would pass.

Mom’s furniture moving always kept me on my toes, but I didn’t inherit this trait. In every space where I’ve lived, the furniture has found its place and stayed there for the duration. If something didn’t fit, I got rid of it. If a space needed something new, it was purchased and put in it’s new home. Even as a mother, my kids’ room has had two arrangements: one when there was just one, and another when the second came along. Maybe this trait skipped a generation. My siblings don’t seem to have it, but my sister says my niece rearranges her bedroom every few months. Maybe my little ones will rearrange when they get older.

I never asked Mom why she moved furniture all of the time. I don’t know if there was a pattern or a cause. Did she rearrange things on days when she was unhappy, or feeling restless, or bored? Mom was rarely satisfied with the status quo. She craved constant change and was always searching for ways to make her life different and better. Shifting the furniture could make a room open up, or feel more spacious, or cozy. This could become a perfect spot to watch tv, read the paper, nap, or have a conversation. Maybe if the furniture was just right, she would be satisfied. Moving furniture might have given Mom a feeling of control over her world. She moved it to remind herself that even if she couldn’t make the church, or her husband, or her children do exactly what she wanted, she could make us sit where she wanted.

I wonder how many times Mom would have shifted the furniture in the two years since she’s been gone. I never thought it would be something I’d miss, but when I visit Dad now, the house looks pretty much the same as it did the visit before; stuck in Mom’s final arrangement. I’m sure, wherever she is, she’s ready for change, and I imagine she’s watching us and thinking about just how she would like to move things around.

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