Yesterday I wanted to make cinnamon rolls. I have not made them since my Mother’s stroke when I knew they would have been very difficult for her to swallow and I couldn’t risk her choking. I knew she would want a piece if I made them and I didn’t ever want to have her see them and not get one. Momma made cinnamon rolls every week. She loved them making them and eating them, as did our whole family. When we were young Momma made more than one pan because friends and neighbors would find out she was baking and always ask her for a roll. Her rolls, as compared to mine, were always much lighter and seemed to remain that way for more than a day or two. They were heaven, just like some of her cookies. Momma taught her self to bake and she was a very good teacher.
When I was young, I often watched while she baked and I always wanted to learn. One day when she was gone, I begged my sister to help me prepare to bake a cake. She needed to check if I had measured all the ingredients correctly. I wasn’t too old, just around eight or nine years old. I put the cake in the oven and almost forgot to take it out and my mixing method had never been perfected since I had never baked before. When Momma came home she smelled the cake. It burnt to a rubbery hockey puck. She asked me what happened and finally I allowed her to see the cake. After looking at it, she knelt and hugged me, then gave me a kiss, wiped off the tears from my cheek and gently told me that if I wanted to learn to bake she would teach me. From them on every Saturday was a lesson in baking. With the patience only she could have and the amount of love in her heart, she taught me all she knew. Eventually, I was professionally trained to cook and bake and the older I got I realized how much differently I think of baking and cooking. To this day I bake like my Mother and it is far superior to any professionally baked product and I have proven that many time,s particularly when I owned a bakery.
And so, regardless of her never wanting to admit that she was instrumental in my food career, I shall tell you that she was and ask you to join me as I think of Momma and her wonderful baking–
To Remember and Thank!
I, with dusty socks, shirt and jeans and a rolling pin for specular,
hold court over soft butter, brown sugar, walnuts, raisins and danish dough.
As I bend slightly to roll the dough, I look up and and I see you —
Also bent slightly, hands covered with flour as your palms
knead soft buttery dough that come will from the oven as golden danish,
lined on tin pans as your own tin Soldiers, scented of
cinnamon, mace and waiting to be enjoyed with a crock of country butter.
Neat rows on cooling racks were crispy, Ranger Cookies,
waiting for me to put them in the Cookie Jar or in my Tummy!!
Each week I watched in boyish curiosity as you baked,
watching in the hope that someday I could do the same.
On the kitchen table lay your handwritten cookbook.
Recipes with chocolate, nuts, caramel, sour cream and more.
Oh what a journey as we filtered our way through the pages
and now the the books lay on my counter, tattered, worn and loved.
Journeys made through your books today find you with in each page,
windows to your love and recipes of your treats to make.
Each recipe your hallmark passed on to me.
Each recipe returns to you Momma with my love and my thank you.
Once more I ask you to understand that this post is not about the Crepusculum. The next post will once again address my feelings on entering my Crepusculum, but for now and for a couple more posts I will share with you my life as it is presently.
You are invited to play “You Are My Sunshine” by clicking the audio button. This particular accompaniment is a recording by The Gene Autrey Band. Sing along please. The lyrics are slightly different than those originally written by Jimmy Davis and Charles Mitchell. I first sang my version to my Mother four years ago while she was in the Critical Care Unit, following a major stroke. It has become our anthem.
You Are My Sunshine
You are my sunshine
My only sunshine
You make me happy
When skies are grey, or purple, or pink….
You’ll never know dear
How much I love you
Please be be my sunshine for all of my days.
You are the Mother
I am the son–
You always have loved me
as much as I have loved you.
You’ll never know dear
How great you have been
Please be my sunshine for all of my days.
I have taken nearly a lifetime to accept the simple reality that my Mother will die. Now I question, each day, will it be today, tomorrow or another day, but regardless it draws nearer and nearer. The daily changes are significant, particularly, when Momma becomes quieter and quieter and less willing to speak or even answer a simple question. Yesterday was the first day in three weeks that she interacted with me, but now today, stopped responding this afternoon. I don’t think that it is always in her power to communicate, even though there are times she can express displeasure very quickly.
It is during her quiet times that a phantom meets me face to face causing me to be bewildered and and weak and then I realize how easily my nemesis reigns.
Daily I watch and understand her unhappiness and feel the malcontent within her heart. I know that I would never be able to withstand the onslaught of degeneration she experiences and now I have begun to respond to that call and pray that I support her own orison that begs a speedy departure from this physical life.
Her beacon shines bright toward heaven and as she waits quietly and serenely, I will support her appetency. In so doing, a few weeks, ago I wrote a poem embracing the idea of her departure. By writing I hope the words will soothe and strengthen me, particularly when my nemesis becomes overwhelming……….
Lately, I also realize I must tell this incorrigible, phantom it will not win. I will support my Mother’s departure and I will repeatedly, read this poem because it came from deep within my heart and that its’ spirit will continue to minister a balm that will ease me into change. I have also begun to believe that Momma will be in a heavenly paradise where her spirit will no longer be plagued by her earthly pain and she will be able to be happy and be with everyone she loves that preceded her in death. There she will also be able to be my Mother, standing with open arms and a warm smile, as she welcomes my sister and I at our time.
A friend suggested that I prepare myself now for a new identity, an updated life plan, where I will no longer be a caretaker/protector, but one that allows growth in my own life. I hadn’t really thought of this before because I intentionally blocked it from my thoughts. Now I can see how important a plan is and how it will form a bridge between here and where I need to go. As I have written before, my Mother’s wisdom shines yet to this day. One day, not long ago, my Mother spoke to my sister. She repeatedly told my sister that she was worried for her. Eventually, my sister reasoned that she was not speaking of her, but of me. She was concerned about my life following her death. Even so close to the end of her journey she expressed her concern for me. When my sister told me, I didn’t think much of it until I understood that she knew before me that I need to make new plans for my life.
I may have acquiesced to Momma’s orison, but in doing so I realize how little time I have left to get ready and to be with her. And so I shall continue to write as much as I can to help me, but I also will spend as much time each day kneeling at her bedside, head to head so that my voice is directed straight to her ear; Momma will quietly lie there, I will babble on as usual and then, every once in a while Momma will respond and I will send that moment directly to my heart to be locked away and not forgotten.
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