Happy Mother’s Day

My mom has been gone for many years now, but there’s not a day that I don’t think of her or need her or miss her. We seldom saw eye to eye, but we usually saw heart to heart.

Happy Mother’s Day to the woman who insisted I use good grammar and who modeled great reading habits. I owe her everything.

Peace, people.

When You’re Still Sick, but You Know Everyone is Tired of Hearing About It.

There is a black cat reposing on my chest. Occasionally she head butts me, a sure sign of affection. Or maybe just an attempt at getting my attention. Either way, her ministrations are comforting.

I was supposed to get a haircut today. It’s desperately needed, but there’s no way I can drive to the town my salon is located in. There are miles between bathrooms.

Our bedsheets need washing. I’m fairly sure I have the energy to strip the sheets from the bed, but will I be able to put them back on after they’ve been washed and dried?

The television is driving me crazy, but my mind won’t let me read a book. Silence is fine for awhile, but I dwell on the wrong stuff: I hate Donald Trump, God help me, but it’s true.

I keep reminding myself that I love my husband. We haven’t gotten to sleep in the same room for awhile due to his sciatica, then his upper respiratory infection, and my “whatever fresh hell this is today.” Have I mentioned he’s supposed to have a surgical procedure later this week? Fudge.

I want my mommy. God, I want my mommy. I dreamt of her last night. She had a fancy new car and a coffee mug with an inspirational verse written in blue script. We sat in the car and talked. I cried.

Swim with Me

Childhood memories of swimming embossed on black and white slides on a Kodak carousel

Projector. Mom posed in sepia tones next to lipsticked friends showing long legs and

Shy facade. Burgeoning freedom from tired stereotypes of the matronly figure.

My beautiful mother, cigarette in hand, defied the trope. Once divorced, then
Remarried,

Tall and curvaceous with a smile for the ages, yet too self-concious to
swim in

Public. Every time I don my lycra swimsuit I see her in my mind. Gorgeous, like me.

Sticky Date Nut Roll

Today would have been my mom’s 79th birthday. She’s been gone for many years, and I still miss her every day. 

Mom was a Christmas person. She didn’t do a great deal of baking during the year, but at Christmas she pulled out all the stops. She baked cookies and made candy and sweet breads. She made a sticky date nut roll that either came out perfectly or had to be peeled off the wax paper in gooey chunks. But she made it every year, always hoping for the best.

I haven’t had that date nut roll in years, but I’ve been going through my recipes this week and reminiscing. Wouldn’t it be great, I thought, to make Mom’s date nut roll, to see if I could make it come out perfectly, in her honor. Alas, I can’t find it. Maybe I never had that one. 

I turned to Google and came up with this one, though:

Date Nut Roll

Ingredients 

3 1/2 C. Sugar
1 C. Milk
1/4 C. Butter or Margarine
1 16 oz. pkg. Pitted Dates
1 C. Chopped Pecans
1 Tsp. Vanilla extract
Powdered Sugar

Directions

-Combine sugar, milk, and butter in a saucepan. Stir until sugar dissolves.
-Cover and cook over medium hear for 2-3 minutes to wash down sugar crystals from the sides of the pan.
-Uncover and continue to cook without stirring until the mixture reaches the soft ball stage (240°).
-Cool to lukewarm (110°).
-Add vanilla.
-Beat at medium speed with an electric mixer until the mixture thickens and cools.
-Sift powdered sugar on a linen towel.
-Divide mixture into two portions and shape each portion into two rolls, each

    1 1/2″ in diameter.
    -Wrap in towels.
    -Let stand until set, then cut into 1/2″ thick slices.

    As far as I can tell its Mom’s recipe; although, I don’t think she used a candy thermometer, and that probably explains why it only turned out perfectly about 20% of the time.

    Will I give it a go and try to make this Christmas treat? I kind of feel Mom urging me to do just that.

    Mom as a teenager.

    Shaved Legs

    I shaved my legs this morning, just as I shaved them yesterday and the day before, as

    Far back as fifth grade when an older boy looked at the soft brown hair highlighted against my pale

    Skin and made a disparaging remark about my burgeoning femininity. His words inflicted

    Shame on my body. Where before I’d felt they were a part of me, now my legs were alien

    Enemies, beings that had sprouted unsightly fur seemingly overnight with no advance

    Warning. As soon as school dismissed I hurried home and beseeched my mom for my own

    Razor. Oh, you don’t want to start shaving, just yet, she said, Once started, you cannot stop.

    Yet she gave in, instructing me in the depilatory arts. And damned if she wasn’t right.

      

    Angels 

    Studly Doright and I married on July 30, 1976. We were young, in love, and profoundly broke. I hadn’t really noticed just how broke we were until our first Christmas rolled around.

    We managed to buy a sad little tree, but we had no ornaments. I know now there existed women who could whip up some crafty ornaments using a mixture of baking soda, grape jelly, and crushed leaves, but I was not one of those women. And this was way before Pinterest. 

    My mother came to the rescue. She bought me two kits of do-it-yourself felt ornaments. At first I was overwhelmed. I couldn’t, and still can’t, sew, but I began working on the ornaments a little bit every evening, hanging them on the tree as I finished. 

     
    In the beginning there were twelve ornaments, but after 16 moves in 39 years of marriage a couple have gone missing. One wreath shaped ornament was last seen being tossed around by our Siamese cat, aptly named Holly. Said wreath had a decidedly bedraggled air before it disappeared for good around 1996. The other missing ornament just went A.W.O.L. one year, perhaps fearing it would meet a death similar to that of the mangled wreath.

    My favorite of the lot are the scarecrow and the angel.

      
    Poor scarecrow is holding on, but just barely. He is missing an eye and his hat has undergone drastic alterations, but he continues to smile. I feel like scarecrow is my spirit animal. 

      
    The angel has fared better than the rest of the crew. All but one of her sequins remain intact. She’s still praying for peace, and she means it. 

    After my mom passed away I began collecting angels. Some are intricately carved, others beautifully crafted. A few were quite expensive. But this little felt angel, given to me that first Christmas of my marriage by my mother and sewn imperfectly by me, is the one I cherish most.

    Peace, people.

    (im)Perfection

    My mom was a kitchen perfectionist. She had precise ideas as to how most things had to be done, and I never quite was able to live up to those ideals. I never stirred correctly, never measured properly, never quite made anything to Mom’s specifications. I’ve always blamed her for my not learning to be a better cook, but truthfully I never enjoyed kitchen tasks.

    Every year as Thanksgiving nears I wish I’d paid more attention to Mom’s directives. Even though I’ve now successfully prepared two dozen or more holiday dinners on my own I still have at least one hiccup in the preparation stage every single time. One year I almost forgot to buy a turkey. Another year I accidentally prepared sweet cornbread as the base for my cornbread dressing. That’s a definite no-no! No amount of sage or pepper could counterract the sweetness. There’s no telling what will happen this year. You see, I’m a bit of an imperfectionist.

    On Thanksgiving morning I can always imagine my mom looking down from her perch in heaven shaking her head and saying, “Oh, sis, not like that!” But she’s also probably beaming in amazement that I manage to pull the whole thing off, and that so far no one’s been rushed to the emergency room after one of my meals.

    Studly Doright and I wish each of you a Happy Thanksgiving. May your heart be filled with love and gratitude and your belly filled with good food.

    Peace, people!

    Thanksgiving Day at Doright Manor

    Roast Turkey

    Cornbread Dressing

    Green Bean Casserole (Studly’s favorite)

    Grape Salad (from Chicken Salad Chick-my favorite)

    Cranberry Sauce

    Deviled Eggs

    Yeast Rolls

    Pumpkin Pie

    Wine

      

     

     

    A Good Talk

    My mom wasn’t much for sharing feelings. We knew when she was angry. It was impossible not to know. We knew when she was happy because her smile lit up the room, but she didn’t tell people, even those closest to her, what was really going on inside her heart and mind. Maybe she talked to her sister. I hope so.

    I, on the other hand, share way too much. If I’m happy I’ll tell you why. If I’m pissed off, you’ll know the reason, and then some. I even annoy myself sometimes.

    When Mom was dying I flew down to stay with her and Dad at their apartment in Sweetwater, Texas. I’d just begun teaching that year in Great Bend, Kansas, and it wasn’t easy for me to get away, but my grandmother needed a break from caring for her dying daughter and it was my turn.

    Can you tell it was something I did not want to do? I was in denial. Mom and Dad were, too, so we didn’t talk about death during the daylight hours. But at night, when Dad was asleep Mom and I talked. Now we never directly approached the subject; that just wasn’t going to happen. We danced around it, tiptoed, balanced on the edge, but anytime I came too close Mom’s face tightened up and the subject was changed.

    We sat in the bathroom of their claustrophobic apartment and didn’t talk about death. 

    I’d bought her a book. It was the children’s book by Robert Munsch, I’ll Love You Forever. I’d hoped it might break down some barriers and allow us to express our feelings before it was too late. She refused to read it.

    “I’m afraid it will make me cry,” she said.

    “Maybe that’s the point,” I said.

    And that was the end of that.

    She needed someone to come care for basic health care tasks, but a private nurse was out of their budget range. I suggested we contact hospice care. 

    “But that means I’m dying,” said the woman whose bladder cancer had spread throughout her body and into her brain.  

    “Maybe you are,” I said.

    And that was the end of that.

    She had a major seizure the week I was there, and was admitted to the hospital in Abilene. I should have stayed, but again, we were all in denial and I had a plane ticket back to my life in Great Bend. When I left, Mom was her old self, joking with the nursing staff and not talking about death.

    She never recovered enough to leave the hospital, and when my Daddy called to say we needed to come we left as soon as we could get some loose ends tied up. 

    As is often the case with those near death Mom roused herself the day we arrived at her bedside so she could interact with us, touching our hands and trying to reassure us. She called my daughter stubborn and we all had a good laugh, then she drifted off to sleep.

    I sat with her that night and listened to her struggle to breathe. With her captive there in that hospital bed, attached to all the monitors, I finally got to tell her the things I’d wanted to say that she didn’t want to talk about.

    “Mommy, I love you and I wish you weren’t dying. If I could I’d hold you in my arms and comfort you as you always comforted me.”

    At one point Mom opened her eyes and tried to tell me something. It was important to her, but I couldn’t understand her speech right then. I called in a nurse and she tried to make Mom more comfortable, but she stopped trying to communicate after that. I’ll never know what she was trying to say to me that night because she passed away soon after.

    I guess the point of this is, don’t wait to tell people what you feel. We’re all dying. It’s just a matter of time.

    Peace, people.

    Cinnamon

    Daily prompt: Smell you later. Tell us about a smell that transports you.

    Mama made a treat
    when I was a child of four
    I remember still.

    to this very day
    the delicacy prepared
    makes my mouth water.

    memories flood in
    cinnamon sugar on toast;
    a slice of heaven.

    cinnamon and mom
    are all mixed up in my head;
    a sweet memory.