For years I have been collecting notes and anecdotes about my mother, hoping to someday write a book about her. But when I think of putting them in some kind of order I realize it wouldn't be appropriate to organize Mum's life. That's not how she lived. One Japanese man struggled to describe her in his broken English: "Barbara is--very scattered brain--very hard to pin."
She changed plans so often she just called them "c's of p's."
Well into my first marriage (i.e., between 1967 and her homegoing in 1990), she and I were in a waiting room somewhere, idly taking a quiz in a magazine. As we both expected, the quiz showed she liked spontaneity. But she was surprised when mine showed I liked to have things planned ahead of time.
"You're like this?" she asked in amazement. "I thought it was just Rick and you were adapting to him." It occurred to me even then that perhaps I had chosen answers that showed me less spontaneous than I really am just to counter balance Mum.
Another time when she was tired she vowed she would "buy a little piece of land somewhere and just sit on it." In one ten-year period she'd lived in an apartment, being a mother to a Vietnamese refugee and her three children, had house sat for friends spending a year overseas, provided live-in companionship for an elderly lady named Emma and been live-in nanny to a little girl named Allison, whose playroom was called Allison Wonderland. I'm sure there are others I've forgotten.
I remembered as a child, when we sailed around the world, Mum had made lifelong friends and put down roots wherever we went. She mourned departures.
"Why do you choose such a hectic life--" I asked, "--so many c's of p's?"
"I don't think I do," she said carefully. "I think God chooses it for me."
She finally bought an own-your-own apartment in Long Beach, California, which she shared with Miracle, a Scotty, and a six-toed cat named Marmalade who rode around on her shoulder and hissed at everyone else.
Her motto, by a Mormon Elder Marion D. Hanks, was, "To believe in God is to know that all the rules will be fair--and there will be wonderful surprises!"