I saw our realtor, Evan Martin, a few days back, a smart young man who also happens to be the son of my mother’s secretary for many years at Psychological Counseling Services, the private practice Mom ran with her partner, Dorothy LeMole. Mom and Dorothy met in graduate school when they were both getting their doctorates in Counseling, and when my dad died of cancer the year after they graduated with Ph.Ds (and I graduated from high school), they decided to build a house together here in Sherman in a development that was behind Grayson County College where my mother taught sociology and psychology.
The house, designed by Bonham architect Mike McDonald, had a Leatherwood side and a LeMole side with two bedrooms, two baths and a sitting room, plus a common living room, dining room, kitchen and laundry room. This was in the early 1970s so it also had psychedelic black and white wallpaper in the small bath on the Leatherwood side (thanks to brother Sam’s influence) and stylized pink and black cat wallpaper in the small bath on the LeMole side (thanks perhaps to Dorothy’s daughter, Lisa). There were also other “high 70s” hallmarks, such as grey-blue carpet in the living room/dining room and aqua, gray and off-white patterned linoleum throughout the house except in the bedrooms where there was carpet. The overall house design was beautiful, with a vaulted ceiling in the common living area, big plate glass windows and sliding doors across the back and glass gables, which looked out on a wooded backyard that went all the way down to a nearby creek. It was lovely.
Why did I mention my realtor in this context? Because when I saw Evan he told me that he had just come from a showing of my mother and Dorothy’s house. “It made me sad,” he said. “It looks dated and has fallen into disrepair.”
My response: “Well, you can rest assured, I won’t be going to any showings of that house.”
That house was symbolic of not only a time and relationship that was unique, but also a time in the lives of both families that was unique. Dorothy was divorced with four kids; Mom was a widow with six. One daughter of Dorothy’s, Lisa, and one son of Mom’s, Sam, were in high school and still lived at home. So, this was a classic case of blending families at a time when most of the “kids” were adults, and some (a couple of my brothers) weren’t the easiest people to be around because of their copious alcohol consumption. Remember, this was the 70’s. Alas, we made it through…
Despite the bumps that came from the blended family dynamics, I loved Mom and Dorothy’s house. It was beautifully designed, and the light that filtered through the trees out back glowed a deep soothing green much of the year. Also, I liked Dorothy’s kids. They were smart and funny and, coincidentally, beautiful. Her three daughters looked as if they’d stepped off the pages of Vogue. I admit I was a bit intimidated by this, but they also had raucous senses of humor and were generous with their love. In other words, Mom and Dorothy’s home was often the site of spaghetti dinners with lots of wine, laughter and song. A happy place.
That is how I want to remember it.
Sometimes, the best place to visit one’s past is through memory, where people and places do not age, but maintain the beauty and freshness of youth.
I will wander there when I want to see Mom and Dorothy’s house. I can already hear the sound of laughter and smell the spaghetti sauce wafting through the air. Ah, and look! The light filtering through the trees is that lovely shade of green.