A cop called my mother “feisty” once. He was right on. Once Mom gets something stuck in her head, there’s no stopping that party — and you will be her guest, like it or not. Knowing that, I agreed to accompany her this week to “the best concrete statue distributor ever!” (Yeah, yeah, yeah. I don’t know what I was thinking either.)
“I really want a giant rooster, and I don’t care what my neighbors think…bu-u-u-ut I’d have to rent a flatbed, so I’m getting a bench instead.” She wasn’t fooling me. I knew that rooster was going to end up on her front lawn come hell or high water.
In exchange for driving about four hours roundtrip to the middle of BFE, I was promised giant, painted, concrete poultry standing at attention in rows of yard art-y wonder. I admit, I was oddly looking forward to that.
An hour and a half into the trip, we made the unavoidable side jaunt off Hwy 35 to the Czech Stop in West. As I pumped gas, Mom went inside to spend nine billion dollars on kolaches. Russell texted, “Mr. Peppermint died.” I went inside to find Mom, suddenly feeling a little less resentful about finding myself on a road trip to a lawn sculpture place in the middle of nowhere with her.
“Mr. Peppermint died? No! He can’t die,” she said. (Good point. Noted.)
We talked about Dad and the school board and the cats and my sister and Russell and Bella and Bella and Bella. The radio never came back on. We talked about gardening and plans we had for fixing up our yards. We talked about labor unions and doctors and lawyers and philanthropy. We talked about Mom’s upcoming missions.
In Lorena, Mom bought a hundred dollars worth of cheese and chocolates. It was very Wallace-and-Gromit. We ate the kind of food I only thought people sold at the State Fair of Texas. Mom described life as a preacher’s wife in Eddy, where her parsonage was forced to pass a white glove inspection by the little blue hairs there in 1963. Back in the truck, we ate a whole package of homemade truffles in five minutes. I told her, licking my fingers, “Those little old ladies would have heart attacks if they tried to bring white gloves in my house right now.”
And then, just like that, we arrived at the concrete place.
It was a Monday.
I got out of the truck and took a few photos before Mom realized we weren’t bringing home a gigantic cock-a-doodle-doer.
They were closed. Russell calls this the Indian Curse after the time Mom dragged us four hours north to Vernon for a powwow that hadn’t happened in three years. Then there was the long trip in the squashed car to the infamous Creation Museum Uncle Paul and I wanted to scope out, also closed. Then there was the time the Griswolds went to Walley World, and it was, yep, closed. I could go on.
Mom asserted from the passenger’s seat, “Look, I called to make sure the cheese cafe was open.”
I couldn’t help but laugh at the circumstance from the side of the gravel entry. “Mom, you know this is going in your eulogy if you die first.”
“I know, I know.”
Still, I’m kinda glad the concrete people weren’t there that Monday. That was how the trip needed to end, I think — standing there, laughing outside of the closest thing to Peppermint Place that Hwy 35 has to offer. Mr. Peppermint might have reminded us:
On the way home, we cracked up as we read Russell’s return text messages about the photos we sent from Concrete Statue Nirvana. Mom, smiling and goofy, acted like a teenager in her new shirt from Forever 21, enjoying her fourth month of retirement. This was fun.
Maybe not as much fun as the Griswolds had after they broke into Walley World at gunpoint, but, hey, this isn’t our last trip either. There is plenty of time for Walley World after Peppermint Place.
I love you, Mom — you and all of your travels.