Tomorrow, my book, Captivated comes out and it has special meaning to me because the character, Juliet, is based loosely on my mother who had a mild case of Obsessive Compulsive Disorder. To some degree, I recognize a few of those traits in myself and granted a lot of people have their own obsessions, but I do believe my mother may have pushed the envelope.
I remember watching the movie, As Good As It Gets, and seeing certain aspects of my mother in the lead character. I thought how sad that people judge certain quirks so harshly. I wanted to create a protagonist that was loveable because of her uniqueness, not despite it. I didn’t wish for her love interest to simply tolerate the obsessiveness, but rather embrace it as a fundamental part of who Juliet was and to love her for that distinctiveness.
I remember my mother not wanting us to come inside because she’d just vacuumed the apartment and that would ruin her neat lines in the carpet. As a kid, that was fine and dandy with me because I got to spend more time outside playing. When we moved into a house everything had a place and that made it easy not to lose anything. I’m not nearly as organized as my mother and I am constantly losing shit, even more so as I age.
In high school, I learned that my mother would use a washcloth to clean herself after going to the bathroom. That is when I first realized that she had a mild case of Obsessive Compulsive Disorder. I wondered if she struggled, or it somehow negatively impacted her life. Before I discovered that about her, I never considered her behavior out of the ordinary.
Despite my father’s faults, he loved my mother and truly appreciated her compulsiveness. They say opposites attract and I don’t believe there was a couple more contrary than my father and mother. Think Felix Unger as my mother, and Oscar Maddison as my father. In case you don’t know that reference, they are the two main characters in the Odd Couple, a famous movie and television sitcom. My father would think it was perfectly acceptable to blow his snotty nose on his undershirt and leave it on for the entire day. After a day of fishing, he would be covered in fish guts, blood, and whatever he’d had for lunch. I should have bought stock in Resolve.
Most children can’t fathom their parents having sex, but I really wondered how they managed to cross the great divide given their massive differences in grooming standards. My mother used to order my father to strip just inside the mudroom and she would toss his clothes directly into the washing machine, adding copious amounts of bleach. Maybe that was their foreplay?
Six months before my mother died, I knew she was dying. I knew this because all of her persnickety habits that made her my loveable mother disappeared. I helped her clip and file her nails. My father took over the household chores and she let him, never complaining once about the piss poor job he was doing. I gained a new respect for how much my father loved my mother as he did everything for her with love, and without complaint. He did an admirable job. My mother’s frail body simply did not have the energy to enable her to do the things she used to do to ensure the house was spotless⸻-literally. It broke my heart to see this. My mother was no longer my mother. So yes, I loved her for exactly who she was. Besides being the cleanest person I ever knew, she was so much more than that. She was generous and funny, kind and loving, and above all self-sacrificing.
I hope you will love Juliet as much as I loved my mother. Feel free to check out Captivated or any other book I’ve written. Embrace individuality and love people for their quirks, not despite them.