Wednesday, August 25, 2010


galore \guh-LOHR\, adjective:
In abundance; in plentiful amounts.

She walks into the room and the air changes, rising up like an autumn wind that hits a bank of trees and sends a spray of colorful leaves flying. People who don’t know her will pause, lift their chins and glance around, shrug their shoulders almost imperceptibly and continue their conversations. People who know her move toward her like ducks to bread on water.

She, meanwhile, is wholly unaware of herself, except for a little self consciousness evidenced in the way she tugs at the back of her shirt, making sure it’s not sitting on the Parrish shelf on her back-side. She sees someone she loves, which is basically anyone she has met, and her face lights up; her cheeks rising, her lips parting, her aquamarine eyes sparkling like the sun has just come from behind a cloud on Lake Huron. Irresistible, I tell you. Arms reach out, like zombies from the Night of the Living Dead, only with all good non-scary feelings. They rise in response to her presence. They rise to embrace her. You move your heart in closer to hers and then you smell it; faint and sweet. You inhale just a millisecond longer to capture the scent of Galore.

It’s been her perfume of choice for years. Mine too, though it is not the same on my skin is it is on hers. My skin is too dry. Too selfish. Too….something. But when I smell it on her it makes me want to spray one more spritz in the morning, like schoolgirls who wanted to look like Jennifer Anniston so they spent an hour every morning trying to get the hairdo. We come close, but….

Galore is the perfect name for Ann Marie’s perfume. She is abundance personified. She is graciousness. She is generosity. She holds her cup of life with both hands, raises it toward heaven and watches it overflow as if it were a fountain of youth. There is no end. The more she gets, the more she gives. The more she gives the more she gets. Logic will try to cap it, but like the BP oil spill in Mexico, it will not hold. Her time, her talents, her warm conversation, her culinary skills, her hosting abilities, her testimony, her curiosity, her compassion, her money, her hard work, her tenderness, her laughter, her tears: they cannot be contained. Nor should they be. She is a divine vessel for all of it; a good steward. We’ll be at Costco getting supplies for Thanksgiving and she will pass the children’s toy section and she will move her cart over in that direction like there was a big invisible magnet hidden under the display table. Though there are no little children in her immediate family, she will drop a doll in her cart, already almost full, and then something with some semblance of Mickey Mouseness, along with a Lego set and something that looks like Sophie….oh, and some PJ’s for baby Ruby. These are MY grandchildren. See what I mean?

My mom used to struggle to restrain her concern about Ann Marie’s health. She worked so hard, and got so tired.

“But it makes me happy, Mom.” she would say between yawns.

Ann Marie is our mother’s little bird. Mom doesn’t play favorites, but anyone can see the sweetness of her affection for AM. And there is no wonder. When we were teenagers I sat in the old white rocker doing something wholly selfish while Ann Marie vacuumed and dusted. Once in a while she would comment to us that our mom worked 16 hour days providing for us and she shouldn’t have to deal with cleaning the house when we were fully capable healthy girls, etc. Guilt would get me up for something like a piano polishing, but soon enough I would have to use the bathroom and the little rest was just too compelling and…well, you know. Our current lives are evidence of our natures: just look at Ann Marie’s house, then take a gander at mine.

Like I said, Galore does not smell the same on my skin.

In 1956 my mom and dad had an argument, so I am told, that ended up with my dad at the top of the basement stairs, drunk, and my mom in a heap at the bottom. She spent weeks in the hospital with clots that invaded her heart and her lungs. She was not expected to live. Mom’s sisters had decided between themselves who would get each of my mother’s children. AM, Lib and I watched this from our heaven place perhaps, wondering how we were going to get down there under these circumstances. Mom was pregnant with Ann Marie at the time. The doctors wanted to abort. They worried mom’s damaged heart would not hold out. Mom refused. “Let’s just play it by ear and see how it goes,” she told the doctor. So I imagine Ann Marie’s weightless spirit hovering over our mom for the next months, whispering encouragement in her ear, stroking her hand at night when the room was dark. And when her spirit came into its body, she kicked only enough to make herself known, but not enough to trouble her mother. That’s what I imagine.

Nineteen months after our mother safely delivered Ann Marie in Grandma Jensen’s house for birthing mothers, she delivered me. Sixteen months later Libby came down. Three little girls in a row. AM was the delicate one, the quiet one, with dark hair and a beautiful smile. Her perfume was that sweet smell of little child sweat, all pure and sharp, like fresh milk from the cow. I picture our mom holding her against her chest, coaxing air from her little tummy, burying her nose in the folds of her baby neck, inhaling aroma, memorizing her scent.

That was 54 years ago. Mom is nearly 87 years old now.

Yesterday Ann Marie drove all day, from Sacramento to Salt Lake City, arriving at Mom and Libby’s house at about one in the morning. She and Mike had come to drop Joseph off at BYU. Joseph is the youngest of Mom’s grandchildren, the caboose of the little train following the big red engine. He is a tall, handsome delight of a boy.

“Mom’s still awake,” Libby said when they walked in, “Go say Hi.”
So the three of them tiptoed into Mom’s bedroom where mom lay on her side, her snowy hair glowing against her deep red pillowcase.
“Hi, Mom.” Ann Marie spoke in a whisper, leaning over her bed to try to catch her eye.

“Oh! Hi Doll! What are you doing here? Oh my goodness, you’re all here! Do you get to stay?”

Everyone melts.

Ann Marie bends low to the bed, her lips touch the lips of her mother. I imagine mom inhaling, just a millisecond longer than normal, to capture the smell of Ann Marie…the scent of Galore.



  1. And I find myself wondering - if I got some Galore, and my skin was right - would it? Could it? Transform me into such a person?

  2. how lucky i am to have such "galorious" sisters. i love them all. i love galore. i love "wotd".

  3. This was beautiful. And Ann Marie is just that amazing. How we love her. We are so lucky to have her. My kids just ADORE her, as do I.

    And I am so lucky to have you all as family... Gram, you, lib... everyone.

  4. You don't know me, but I sing in Utah Voices. I googled you to see who this guest artist is that Michael told us about last night. I don't know what planet I've been on, but I had never heard of you. Well, I just have to say that your writing is compelling! And I will keep reading.... And I look forward to your performancve with Utah Voices!