My mother loved apples. She decorated with shiny red ones in crystal bowls. She made sure the dish towels sported ruby red appliqué, and she papered uniformed round ones to dance high above the kitchen. Funny how I never saw my mother eat an apple, although she would eat apple pie on the rare occasion that she made one, usually for my brother Craig’s birthday.
I still remember watching my mother make pie dough. She’d carefully measure the Crisco, the flour, the salt. She’d lay out the waxed paper, mash the dough inside, and begin to press and roll with the old wooden rolling pin. She’d carefully place the dough in the tin and often let me cut the edges around the rim. Since the recipe made two crusts, mother would gently flute the edges of one while she directed me in decorating the other. Mother’s flutes were always perfect two-fingered imprints with spacing that would rival a ruler. Mine were less elegant, obviously the work of a child. “Make it pretty,” my mom would say. And I would try.
Mother constantly reminded me of the beauty in little things and taught me how to nurture that beauty in myself. She taught me how to stand up straight and make the perfect bow. She taught me how to set a table and twist floral tape into the perfect corsage. My mother’s soft warm hands taught me to see the beauty in every child as she held my face and whispered, “It’s those who are the hardest to love who need it the most.”
I miss my mother.
Now days I enter her kitchen. The apples are gone, as are the warm scents of baked goods or browning meat. My mother’s not gone though, but her mind is going. Alzheimer’s is poisoning what I hold most dear. Like the fruit in the hand of the wicked queen, this disease with its jealousy and rage will take what is not hers–memories that are my mother’s. And mine.
I hate this rotten apple.
Top 10 Things I Learned from My Darling Mother:
1. Stand up tall. You are a daughter of God.
2. Remember, you are part of a family that loves and honors you. Do nothing to dishonor it.
3. Say your prayers on bended knee.
4. Love one another, even when it’s difficult.
5. Serve. Always.
6. Lay the pattern carefully so you cut the fabric correctly.
7. Set a pretty table for every meal.
8. Support your mate–loving, caring, giving– every day of your life
9. Decorate for Christmas. Lots of lights and ornaments!
10. Twist the ribbon just right, and you’ll make the perfect bow every time.