Ten years ago today my mom died. It’s hard to believe it’s been ten years, and I remember March 7 (?), 1986, five days after my sixteenth birthday, when my mom said the same about her mom. “It’s hard to believe it’s been ten years.” I think about what she missed in those ten years: both of my college graduations and my wedding, and I think about what I missed in those ten years: her 80th birthday party, her smile, her laugh. When she died I collected a bunch of things to make into a scrapbook–lots of photos, recipes, letters, etc., but I still haven’t done it. I’ve also wanted to make a website dedicated to her, but I haven’t done that either. The latest was a plan to make a recipe book, illustrated with photos of her and images of her handwritten recipes, and I STILL plan to make that happen one of these days. Off the top of my head, those recipes would include her:
Chicken casserole (with bread crumbs on top)
Chicken and dumplings
Hmm. That’s all I can think of right now. We must have eaten more than that! I remember eating spaghetti with beer in the sauce, hashed beef with beans and sugar-coated biscuits on top, lots of chicken, lots of pork chops, steak sometimes, fish (which I hated) now and then. I remember fish sticks and pot pies, canned green beans and hot dogs and beans, but you can’t put those in a recipe book. I guess I largely associate my mom with cooking, since dinner was ready at 6 o’clock sharp every night of the week. I also associate her with reading historical and romance novels and watching who dunnit shows on TV. I associate her with her glasses hanging down on her nose while she read the newspaper in the morning, a cigarette dangling loosely from her lip and the ash about to fall on the table. I associate her with running to the top of the stairs, then yelling down, “I can’t remember what I came up here for!” and looking for her glasses when they were on top of her head. I associate her with taking care of kids of all ages, from my older sisters’ little babies to my older sisters themselves. I associate her with the pets she fed every day – the cats my brothers dragged in and the dogs she brought in herself. I associate her with gardening, kneeling outside for hours picking weeds and planting tomatoes, pumpkins and rose bushes. I associate her with typing school reports and ironing school uniforms, making sandwiches and having breakfast on the table by the time I got downstairs. I associate her with driving me through the snow to school when I missed the bus and playing cards with me when no one else wanted to. I associate her with wearing curlers to bed and putting drops of perfume on lightbulbs, with whistling her favorite tunes and laughing until she cried.
So with or without a scrapbook, a website or a recipe book, she lives on in the hearts of those who remember her. And someday I’ll be telling my kids, “That’s a lazy man’s load” when they try to carry too many things at once, and they’ll say “How is it lazy? I’m carrying everything at once!” just like I said to her.