One Year Later

It has been a year exactly today since my mother passed away. I did not handle her death very well, I am sorry to say. I had to struggle and learn a few lessons along the way. I fought with those lessons so hard that I nearly destroyed myself a couple of times. Now I have to live the rest of my days without her and all I have are my memories.

One of my favorite memories is coming home on a rainy afternoon from grade school. I rode the bus home. I would get off old Number Six at Camp Marigold and walk past the firehouse.

Once inside, the warming aroma of fresh-baked cookies from mom’s oven would greet me. I would rush to strip myself of my wet rain slicker and boots and hurry into the kitchen. I always wanted the bowl holding the last little drippings of batter and the beaters, and then I would scramble for a cooling cookie or two along with a fresh glass of milk. To a seven-year-old, this was as close as a kid could come to heaven with his feet still planted on the ground.

A couple of years later I invited several school friends home because my mom was going to make a pineapple upside-down, cake. I bragged all over school about my mother’s skill at baking this particular goody — although I had never really seen her do it before. Talk about a kid being embarrassed when he discovered that his mother really wasn’t going to stand on her head to make the cake as he had informed everyone.

Baking was not the only skill my mother had. I was nine years old when we got into a dirt clod fight. I believe I started the fight by throwing a clod at my mother. She picked one up and flung it back.

Earlier my father had developed a grand idea of creating a large rose bed in our back yard. We called it the ‘ditch’ in secret because it was nearly eight feet wide, five feet deep and fifty feet long and all dug out with a backhoe.

her aim was deadly accurate as she hit me squarely in the crotch. I happen to have been standing on a five-foot-high fence at the time and I fell off it and into the ditch. It was the first, last, and only time I threw anything at my mother even in play.

Six months before she died I visited with her one final time. We were sitting at the dinner table at her home, talking about the things we did and did not remember. I suddenly thought to ask her about the old witch that visited my eighth-grade class. I wanted to know if she knew who it was. This witch had come into my class unannounced the day of Halloween.

She was clothed from head to toe in black. Her face was hideous green shade and her nose was long, bent, and pointy. On the one side, it had a wart and her chin supported a mole that sprouted several hairs. She howled and laughed a haunting cackle as she served each of us a small plate of cold noodle-worms and ice-cold, pea-green punch from a black cauldron that steamed as she moved from aisle to aisle.

She smiled warmly and answered that it was she. I nearly fell out of my chair at that revelation.

The evening she died, my son and I rushed to be at her bedside. I promised mom that I would be there, as did her grandson. We cried and we prayed and we cried some more. When she had breathed her last, I spent some time washing her face and combing her hair. It was difficult, to say the least.

Yeah, all I have are memories now. But they are some of the best memories I could have ever asked for.

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