“What’s the emergency, Sis? You sounded panicky on the phone”
“Oh, Daisy,” I whined, “Karl’s’ mother is coming to visit and since we moved I can’t find the box?”
“What box, Tullie?” All of us girls were named after flowers but I was adamant about not being called Tulip.
“You know, the box where I hide all those tacky crafty things my well-meaning mother-in-law sends. I usually wait until she is coming for a visit before I set them out. As soon as she leaves they go back into storage.”
My precious older sister was willing to help. Karl let me know in no uncertain terms he was staying out of it. “Let’s hop to it,” Daisy commanded as she pulled on my arm, “we’ll start at the top and work our way down.”
“Thanks. What would I do without you?”
She didn’t answer. I guess she had heard that line too many times before. Together we climbed the steep stairs to the roomy attic. Sunshine poured through several of the tall windows.
“Okay, here’s the plan.” Daisy always said that the first thing. She just loved to organize. “Which boxes are you sure are not the ones with the craft goodies?”
She was already making sense with her calm demeanor and deductive reasoning.
Box by box we searched for the one that would yield its tea cozies, dishwashing liquid bottle dresses, little house shaped covers designed for every appliance imaginable, and painted wood signs with messages like Welcome or Kiss the Cook.
In a few hours, with no success, we escaped to the kitchen for iced tea. I could see by the way she chewed her bottom lip Daisy was beginning to work on Plan B.
“What,” she postulated with slow deliberation, “ was the one thing whose absence would hurt her feelings the most?
That was a no-brainer for me. It had to be the lampshade she fashioned out of an old silk parachute. She stenciled all the different flowers representing my sisters and me. There were Roses, Lilacs, Daisies, Violets and Tulips. Green was feathered around the bottom to look like grass, and on the top part, a decided sky blue.
Daisy tried to suppress a giggle. “Do you have a picture of that one-of-a-kind decorator accessory?”
“Yes,” I retorted to my smart-aleck sister,” I just happen to have that very thing.”
I stomped off to the den with what I hoped was a show of disgust at her complete enjoyment of my predicament. When I returned with the evidence, she seemed to be dumbstruck.
“Wow!” It really is amazingly awful isn’t it?”
“I told you, smarty pants.” I really needed to work on my attitude, but right now wasn’t the time.
My sensible sibling changed back to her detective mode. “How do you know this monstrosity means so much to her?”
“Well, for one thing, every time she comes for a visit, the first thing she says is, ‘Oh my…I see you still have the lampshade; and in such a prominent spot too.’ Then, she will make reference to how well it has held up over the years.”
“I would assume it stayed so nice because you whisked it away the second she left…right?”
I made a face but I had to admit Daisy had a brilliant plan. She said she had some material and an old lampshade that could pass. “We’ll enlarge the picture and try to copy it exactly. She’ll never know. “
We stayed up all night re-creating until we were too dopey to see straight. By the time Karl pulled into the driveway with the woman whose feelings I was trying so hard to spare, the lamp was in full regalia and standing splendidly on the hall table. The look on the poor woman’s face spoke volumes. Her eyes were as big as crocheted waffle iron covers.
“Oh my dear Tullie. Have you still got that perfectly ghastly shade? I thought it would have it died a natural death years ago. You must really love it.”
I ran for my private prayer closet before I embarrassed us both. After I calmed down, revelation surprised me. No, I did not really love it, but I did really love her.
That was the best visit I can remember with the grandmother of my children. When we said goodbye, she whispered knowingly,“ Please dump the silly thing”.
Free at last, I gave the ugliest lampshade on the planet to the Second Chance Shop.
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