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My Mother Is an Art teacher, and throughout her lifetime she was often praised on her creativity. But, gardening was the one and only art that she could not master, she couldn't even keep the occasional indoor fern aliveâ€¦that is, until the day my father left her.
Watching my father (the sane parent) roughly tear through the contents of my parent's CD collection in search of his favorite hits, I came to the realization that I had known this moment was coming for my entire fifteen years as my parents child. Not that I am complaining, because If they hadn't been my parents I wouldn't have the amazing conflict resolution skill that I now possess. As he moved on to the DVD collection I decided to go steal a cigarette from my mother's purse and mozy on up to the balcony for a smoke. When I reached the balcony I could just barely see my mother, through the leaves, emerging from the shed and toting a Rototiller. She started it, and then tilled through my father's weed infested vegetable garden.
After that day mom was more than the avid gardener, she had a full blown obsession. Night and day she delicately tended the gigantic patches of earth she had claimed for herself. She would patrol its borders taking note of any piece of trash or mysterious hole that the family dog had dug that day, and quickly rectify the garden to its rightful state. The trash was disposed ofâ€¦and so was the dog.
It is safe to say that the mother I had known and loved had left and would not be returning for sometime. She began to spend all day in the garden, tending to her plants, ignoring her children. I suppose I can understand, I mean her flowers were beautiful, silent, and healthy. And my brother's and I were just dirty, whiney, kids with bad grades and even worse attitudes. Unfortunately my mom did not get to keep the sanctuary that she had built for herself.
But on the last days of summer her garden was the most beautiful it had ever been. Her work and dedication showed in every blooming flower that gingerly poked its head through the cedar wood chips that covered every inch of her masterpiece. The cherry tree that she had planted in the middle of my brother's makeshift soccer field was showing its delicate white flowers with a sense of pride. As if to say, "Yo, what up? I'm a cherry tree. And your mother loves me more than you."
By then it had become fairly evident to me that my mom was dating someoneâ€¦and had been for quite some time. She was always talking on her cell phone, and making unnecessary trips to Grand Rapids, which would sometimes last overnight. She never called to say when she wasn't coming home, and after awhile I stopped expecting her to. So I took up the mommy role while my mother was out, making meals, and doing laundry, that sort of thing. (I never really minded it until my social life began to die, and my little brother started to call me mom.)
And then one day I woke up to find that mom wasn't home, and the bag that she kept packed by her bedroom door was gone. For five days and nights I cared for my brothers as well as any fifteen year old couldâ€¦ Immersed in stress, I felt like I had woken up with a house to take care of and two children who wanted answers to their questions. I couldn't answer them, I didn't know where mom was or when she was coming back. All I could be sure of was that the resentment I had felt toward my mother since the divorce had grown tenfold. Its ravenous hunger had been fed by abandonment, and the painstaking responsibility of caring for, and disciplining two young boys.
On the sixth day, after breaking up yet another fight and forcibly placing the partakers in time out, I retreated to the back porch for a smoke. As I enjoyed my only attempt at both rebellion, and suicide I looked out at my mother's masterpiece. Every beautiful flower, and shrub was just a reminder of my absent motherâ€¦and the anger I felt. And right in the middle of the garden, was that fucking cherry tree! It was beautiful, it remained beautiful through everything that had happened that summer. While I sat there, with my fifteen year old soul tarnished by harsh reality, and abrasive stress. At that moment I decided that I would no longer tolerate my mother's negligence. I would fight her. I lit up another cigarette and scampered into the garden for a small piece of vengeance.
With one furious blow from the axe I collected from the woodshed the cherry tree was on the ground. I then proceeded to rip its braches off one by one. As if to say, "Yo, what up? I'm Maeghan, and I fucking hate you." That was the mantra I chanted to myself as I placed the individual pieces into the empty grill. I began to sing the song Raindrops Keep Falling On My Head, as the lighter fluid sprinkled the petals of the cherry tree's formerly beautiful white flowers. And the moment I lit the match gigantic neon blue, and orange flames erupted into the skyâ€¦looking back, I may have used a little too much gasoline.
When the police arrived and saw me standing there in my back yard with a hacksaw in one hand, and an empty canister of lighter fluid In the other I knew they would have questions. But I did not quite know how to explain the three months of repressed anger that had led me to this desperate act of arsonâ€¦so they answered my silence with handcuffs, and nice peaceful ride to the police station.
The police called my father, my father called my aunt, and my aunt was kind enough to contact my mother. She arrived at the police station about four hours after I had been arrested, and the ride home was rather silent. But once we reached the house and it became clear what exactly I had been arrested for she merely looked at me, with her big blue eyes full of regret, and understanding.
"I will always remember,
The first of November,
And my only daughter's arsonist plot.
I see no reason why the arsonist plot
Should ever be forgot."
She gasped this made up riddle through her tears, and began her lifetime of apology for the summer she left me. Today, I am very glad to say that my mom is back. And for the most part I have forgiven her for everything that happened that summer. After all it wasent really her fault, she was just swept away by self preservationâ€¦and that happens to everyone. But I will never be able to apologize for my first and only act of arson because that act of shear anger and desperation was just enough to make my mother remember that the garden wasn't reality, her family was.