My mom set the statue down in our living room, and my young mind instantly worried my own mother had gone insane.
She left with a shopping list of underwear and socks and came home with something I was embarrassed to look at in broad daylight.
The statue was of a couple embraced in a passionate kiss, their heads and slicked back hair formed a heart shape. She called it “passion” and “art.” I called it scandalous and embarrassing.
She spotted it in a section of the store I thought she had no business being in. She went to stores to shop for her children, not to notice passionate pieces of artwork! Picturing her purchasing this statue was the first time I imagined her as a real person and not just my mom.
“Why?” I asked.
“I wanted something nice” she said.
She must have known it wasn’t practical. I think that’s why she wanted it: to show practicality that she deserved something nice.
A statue isn’t a fitting focal point in a Midwestern living room of a working-class family with kids. But mom’s mind was made up.
Mom’s “something nice” lasted about a month before an ill-timed game of dodgeball sent the statue crashing to the ground. The kissing couple was decapitated and broken, something I later learned the tomfoolery of children has a way of doing to passionate couples.
“I just wanted something nice,” mom cried. It wasn’t a mom cry; it was the cry of defeat and desperation from a full-on real and hurting person who desperately wanted something her season in life wouldn’t allow. We feebly glued the kissing heads back together, but mom never mentioned the statue again. It became another broken item collecting dust on the back bookshelf.
Years later, I found the statue and asked if I could have it for my first, “grown-up” home. “It’s broken,” she said.
“You just can’t have nice things, can you mom?” I replied, teasing her with the line we’ve been using since the statue first broke twenty years ago.
Within the year, our two-year-old was dancing with the statue, and (like a magnet) it found the floor and broke. Sure enough, I bawled.
The statue now sits on my desk. When I’m stressed, I run my fingers over the cracks. It represents perseverance and that what’s broken can almost always be fixed. The filled-in cracks remind me of a woman who put having nice things of her own on hold to create something better for her family. Every broken part of her and of that statue holds my history. To me, that’s something nice.