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“No, Mother, you cannot take that piece of junk out of the trash.”

I had moved the old wicker bookshelf from one room to another. It had never been a nice piece of furniture and the moves had not improved its value. Paint had chipped off in various layers from each time I had tried to blend it into whatever surroundings it inhabited. Dust had nestled into every wicker crevice.

I have often wondered how people clean wicker crap. Believe me, a power washer is not the answer.

The reason Mother wanted it was for the same reason I had bought it years ago.

We have to much little dinky, colorful, broken but sentimentally valuable, randomly chosen shit-zkes that need to be displayed. We don’t collect the same things, but we seem to harbor the same, slightly (okay completely) manic, hoarding tendencies. We are unable to stop collecting. Or to relinquish previously collected crap.

Well, Mother’s much worse at that last part than me. At least I had the damn wicker bookcase in the trash.

She brought up the fact that I had already bought something to replace it. And then she said that I was mean because I wouldn’t let her have it. And then I said but I got rid of something. And then she said, well I will too.

She might be 83 and a tad forgetful on occasion but there are no signs of dementia and she already had someone peek into her brain and said it looked quite good. (When you get old and you go to the doctor, they assess your cognitive ability by asking the person who brought you if the senior in her life can process things such as making their own coffee. Yeah.)

“You have to get rid of something equal in size,” I said, as I went into the kitchen to make my breakfast. She had put on her ‘I-hope-God-doesn’t-take-me-to-the-pearly-gates-while-my-daughter-is-being-mean-to-me-because-I-don’t-want-her-to-live-with-that-guilt’ face. And yes, I was praying that someone scavenging trash piles in the neighborhood would pick it up before I got there to cart it to her apartment. As I went up to brush my teeth and only felt a tinge of guilt when I looked out of the bedroom window, down towards the end of the driveway and saw that the bookcase no longer rested lopsided against the full trashcan.

Crossing my bedroom, I started out to the balcony to say a prayer or two. It’s a nice restful place positioned south of her apartment and within eyesight of the entrance to her apartment. Glancing towards her spiral staircase, waiting at her bottom step, like something out of a weird zombie movie where things strangely appear that you didn’t expect and knew could only have arrived there through supernaturally evil means, was the bookcase.


I think Mother weighs about 98 pounds. She’s shrunk to about 5 foot even. The bookcase tops out at 6 feet. It’s not that heavy but its awkward.

She was sitting on the one of the patio chairs, trying desperately not to let her gloating face take over the poor me one.

“I am not taking that up the stairs until you show me what you want me to bring down that you are going to throw away.”

Her face changed little in expression.

I confidently, mistakenly as it would turn out, left for work, reassuring myself that she had no other recourse than what I had offered.

Have you ever watched an ant out in the yard? They are amazing. Just flat amazing.

The estimate is that an ant can pick up something 50x heavier that itself and a little researching tells you that it’s all about being tiny.

Yep, Mother, aka Atom Ant, dragged that bookcase up that spiral staircase.

And put it here.


And tried to mollify me by handing me a defunct, fake set of plastic fireplace logs with a fake wheel of fire, that I suspect she had purchased as a throw down for just such an occasion.

“Aren’t you proud of me,” she said, triumph written all over her.


I looked at her, her spikey, ant-like antennae hair short  from being shaven just 6 months ago so they could make a hole to drain the pooling blood from her subdural area, the hole visible high on her forehead, something she doesn’t like.

Yes. Well, yes, I am.