I’ve lived in one since Christmas. I’m still living in one, but this morning, for any number of unknown reasons, the noisy crowds of Busy Brain were quiet. Maybe because I tend to the tangential, it’s difficult to push pressing thoughts aside, to heel them into submission; instead, they pull madly at the leash, yipping & barking until my attention is unmercifully theirs. But this morning I’m here.
These last 3 months have been full. We’ve gutted and begun to refit the kitchen. Not finished but very usable, I proceeded to start daytime cooking classes in it, each week sharing, Carol Merrill-style, each new addition. The classes have been kids & cake, soup & breadsticks, many moving parts, non-stop chatter, lots & lots of dishes. This week our class will have a dishwasher, the First World mechanical sort, a supplement, or augmentation perhaps, to my mom, my mom who wanted to be my assistant.
For Christmas, I gave my folks a cooking class, a hands-on Winter Soups & Salads class. They went on a Tuesday evening, worked with an instructor and other students they didn’t know, producing some tasty, tasty food. My dad thrilled to finally know the proper way to hold a chefs knife. They were able to experience what I do for work: the black coated-instructor, the purple-aproned assistants, the trays of mise en place, the cutting boards, the cooking, and all those dishes. On the heels of this, my mom became my assistant here.
The first week, as there was none in the kitchen, she ferried each and every dish downstairs to the laundry sink, washing, racking, stacking when dry. She took home the dinner- & silverware to run through her dishwasher, along with the bar towels & aprons to her laundry. On rising next day, she felt the burn of those stairs. Thankfully, we’ve had a convenient sink since, something to never take lightly.
Each week, she arrives early, helps me set up what needs to be. She greets the students, gets them name-tagged & aproned, and ensures each knows the hand washing routine. She whisks away the dirty bowls & spatulas, packs up the ingredients we’re done with, helps this one or that get the cake batter into the muffin cup. She doesn’t stop until my dad arrives with the insulated carafe of coffee and we sit down to sample the day’s offering. Where this seemingly wasn’t enough, she decided to take home any ironing that needed doing, each week pressing Spouse’s shirts better than I ever can (or care to), returning them, the closet magically filling as if the work of Storybook Elves.
My mom is a flurry. I’ve learned how to work from her. I first learned to cook & bake from her. I channel her when I need to “grub out” the aluminum tracking of the windows, or the grout of the bathroom floor. We even use the term Harness the Power for how effective she is: when something needs doing, she was always the team top pick. I think she has always held a list of what needed to get done on any given day, and has been able to check off each item when completed. I’ve only glimpsed occasional wandering: like the time she was readying her living/kitchen/dining rooms for a baby shower and ended up repainting her bedroom closet doors. She saw the irony but was still happy to have a fresh lift in her room.
With all the busy, my mom likes to sit down for coffee. She gives great hugs. And I know without doubt that she loves me. My earliest memories of mom being still are when she read to us (my favorite: The Secret Garden) and when I knew she had been praying: the right side of her face pressed onto her bed leaving a telltale imprint. Think what you may, believe what you do, but my parent’s have always tried, doing the best they could for who they were/are at any given time, to live a true faith. I’ve never doubted that. And though our theologies haven’t always aligned, I have always been buoyed, remembering that chenille-print cheek from waybackwhen, to the Right Now, wherein both my parents pray for the All Of Us every day.
This morning, before I leash Pup for a brisk walk, before we head out into the lion-like weather of this mid-March, I will enjoy these warm waters of memory, these few moments of word-flowing-through-fingertip. I won’t lament the I Don’t Do This Enough, this has been respite. Maybe there will be a sooner rather than later return to this pool. I don’t know. What I do know? I am blessed. I am lucky. I am loved. I wish the same for you.