By 1980, the world had changed around my mother
enough that, sitting at our kitchen table in Thief River Falls,
with her 20th high school reunion form in front of her,
she could not bear to write housewife or homemaker
in the blank for “occupation.” Hell’s bells, she might have thought,
valedictorian of LaSalle High School in Niagara Falls, expected
by all to do something other than raise children — but caught
between things, told that she couldn’t be a writer or lawyer
and also raise children. Hell’s bells. So, my mother lied
extravagantly, said she was an agricultural pilot,
a crop duster flying low over sunflower fields.
At the reunion, she couldn’t walk back the lie, so they
gave her the award for Most Unusual Profession —
a feather duster. It’s entirely possible that she used it.
3 (will be explained later)