So… I have a collection of memories of my mother freaking out at the sight of a frog. Doesn’t matter the size… any frog freaks her out.
The clearest one is from close to thirty years ago, the April I turned 21. I was visiting her in the Cayman Islands and one night we went to visit a friend of hers at their condo.
After drinking a little wine and chatting (I was a freshly minted 21 and so could now drink with the big girls), we were leaving the house to go home.
As we hit the walk outside her friend’s front door, there sat one of these fellows. A large brown, bumpy frog or toad, sitting in the middle of the walkway. ‘Twas dark… I knoweth not precisely if frog or toad.
My mother froze and nothing we said or did could get her or this frog to move.
It was getting late, and that frog just sat there and frogged, and my mother stood there and trembled.
Eventually, something I said broke the spell, and she took off her shoes and gathered them in one hand, hitched up her long skirt around her waist, and took off at top speed, swerving unnaturally off the walk and disappearing into the dark towards the car park.
All we saw was her ankles flashing from the weak ground lights, and her silhouette jetting away faster than you would expect from a woman in her mid-forties at the time.
I stood there for a second, burst out laughing, then apologized to our host and to the frog/toad, and then made my way—slowly—to the car.
To date, frogs are the only thing I’ve ever seen my mother show any fear of. Not because she’s brave, she’s a coward. In so many ways she is a coward.
But the frog thing is this weird irrational thing that goes with a long list of wild irrational things that my mother engages in.
As funny as that episode was, among many, many episodes where she flipped her lid about even the tiniest of frogs in her presence, it’s the only example I have of her trembling or scared of anything.
In all else, she has been a dragon… a force of evil intent and selfish action, cruelty and mayhem.
The frog memories I have though, still remind me she’s human somewhere, deep down inside her heartless, cold etheric matrix… there is a human. And despite the fact that I don’t like her, that I can’t stand the best bone in her body, I still love her.
Photo by Jessica Ann Bryan