Tag Archives: relationships

Not one thing or the other

My sister had not yet been gone a year when her blue glass baking pan shattered. Like a grenade going off, it sent big and little shards of glass all over the stove top and floor. What a perfect way for her to appear, I thought. During food prep, of course, with violence, of course, and narrowly missing injuring me. So much for the sentimentality of a delicious roasted chicken prepared in an inherited pan — Pyrex, by the way.

Then there was that time in LA when one of her large paintings came loose and dropped like a guillotine to the couch below. Both boys were there, my brother, me — the entire surviving William Mallon bloodline. Dramatic, scary, and inescapably about her. A signature move, in other words. Nobody was hurt.

But she was an excellent cook, gave generously at Christmas even when she had no money, and she was a wizard with plants. Her windowsills were always lush with them. She knew when to pinch and cut them and when to leave them alone. She knew how to propagate new plants with cuttings. Even when she was actively dying and couldn’t care for them, her windowsill plants thrived.

Salem, Mass. March 2019

With geraniums, I never had any luck overwintering them, even after doing research and putting them in the basement with bags over the pots.

The geraniums inherited from Noreen, on the other hand, I put in a cold east-facing window for the winter and pretty much forgot about them. They sprawled. They bloomed. They transitioned to the outdoors beautifully. All summer, they graced deck corners and patio edges.

This geranium above is the same one you see below.

My point is we are not one thing only and neither are our relationships. It is a testament to how difficult my sister was that it took three years for the sweeter memories to start percolating up, but they are, and I’m grateful.