by Becky Lower
Gather ‘round, ladies, and let me tell you a story about a mother and her babies. The mother was my mother—the best in the world, with the biggest heart, despite her faults. And the babies—all of them—are my sisters and brothers.
My mother didn’t have much luck with men. She always went for the sleek, dashing, handsome studly type, who loved her for a while and left her soon afterwards. But she loved her children, unconditionally, and did her best to provide us with food and shelter until we could make it on our own. She instilled in all of us a sense of adventure, a love of nature and the outdoors, and a love for each other. She taught us how to be self-sufficient, how to make a meal out of next to nothing, how to keep ourselves clean and how to take pride in ourselves.
My mother’s name was Sunny, which matched her personality. Her full name was Sunflower, because she was born in the age of the hippie movement. (Peace, love, rock and roll, flowers, all that groovy stuff.) So, when she started having children, she continued the tradition of flower names. I am the oldest, Rose. My siblings are Lily, Iris, Heather, Amaryllis, Daisy, Hyacinth, the identical triplets Petunia, Pansy and Poppy and the boys, Basil, Fennel, and Tarragon.
When we were small, we loved being together. We would roll around in the yard with each other, playing hide and seek, running ourselves ragged and swatting at each other gleefully until we wore ourselves out. Then, we’d all troop back into the house and fall asleep, usually all together in a heap of arms and legs. As we got older, we went our separate ways. Mother’s gone now, so we don’t get together much anymore as a family. But I know that Lily, Daisy and Pansy have followed in Mother’s footsteps, each having a passel of children. Iris never liked being confined by the walls of a house, so she’s become the nature girl of the family, living, working and raising her family in a national park. Basil is doing well, but takes after his father, running from woman to woman, never able to settle down with just one. I had my tubes tied as soon as possible, so I could enjoy my adulthood without the concerns of caring for children. I had lots of fun as a young adult, going on oodles of dates with young, eligible bachelors, turning my nose up at some others, always leaving before getting too involved. But, I’m getting older, and slowing down a bit. Now I spend my days preening in front of the mirror, watching the silver streaks in my hair become more pronounced every day (I think they make me look even more exotic), eating as much fish and chicken as I want, sleeping the day away in my comfy bed, and allowing the people I’m living with the occasional contact with me. As you may have guessed by now, I’m a cat.