When my grandmother died, my daughter was six months old, and my second marriage was already heading towards divorce. I remember sitting in the church next to my mother holding my daughter, who was smiling at everyone in the way babies do at that age. I remember we drove to a Jersey City graveyard where my mother's father and brother were buried. There was an extra plot that my mother explained was for herself. I remember reading the birth and death dates of her brother and father and it didn't make sense. Nothing that happened that day made sense.
At some point I inherited some money, a few pieces of furniture, a cast iron dog door-stopper, and my grandmother's favorite rosary beads. I also inherited some of her angel collection. Over the next 12 years, wherever I moved, the angels came with me. Some places they stayed in the cardboard boxes that also held books, kitchen utensils and journals.
When I finally settled down in this marriage, I put the angels around the house. There was nothing magical or mystical or remotely religious about this. I just liked seeing them, a reminder of my grandmother. That's when the proliferation started. People who came to visit, friends and family noticed the angels and I began getting angels for gifts. An angel picnic basket, angel plates, angel coffee cups, angel towels, angels framed with Bible verses, angels from Mexico and Europe, angel earrings and bracelets.
I started resenting angels and began collecting mermaids. I knew my grandmother would understand if she were alive. Besides, my husband had accidentally broken most of my angels, even ones he had given me. Angel refrigerator magnets, he knocked off their wings. Other angels made of clay, he brushed past and knocked off their heads. To his credit, he always glues them, but I know they've been broken.
Mermaids are slippery, yet sturdy, or at least the ones I got for myself. Same thing started happening, a mermaid invasion. So now, I'm living in this house with broken angels and too many mermaids. The way I knew the mermaid situation was out of control was recently when one of my sons heard a noise on the front porch from the kitchen and I said, as if it was a normal thing to say, "Oh, it's only the wind knocking the mermaid over." When he looked at me askance, I said,"it's just a mermaid that was inside the house that I got tired of looking at." So, while many people are thinking of New Year's resolutions, I'm trying to think of ways to get rid of angels and mermaids.