The following is written in loving memory of my mother. It was published in an earlier version, but I've revised it, and it was published again online yesterday in a second printing in A Woman's Voice published by Dolores Ayotte at http://networkedblogs.com/ahAlQ I hope you enjoy!
Hot glazed donuts . . .
I was a young girl in elementary school when I learned how to make Mom happy. She sent me down the street to Gene’s Bakery for orders of toast and butter for breakfast, to the drugstore on Main Street for ice cream, or to the local donut shop for hot glazed donuts.
Funny thing, we never owned a toaster, and Mom loved toast with her morning coffee. She loved hot glazed donuts on a cold winter morning with a steaming cup of Community coffee, or perhaps I should say some coffee with her sugar and cream. Hot summer evenings, it was ice cream.
We lived in a small town, and Mom could trust me to run errands. She used to brag, “Why, I could send Jane across the main highway with a $20 bill at five years old, and she’d bring back my correct change.
I was Mom’s little errand runner and lady. There wasn’t much time for being a little girl. I was the oldest of three girls, and it was up to me to set the example. I set some, that’s for sure. I made good grades in school, never got into trouble, and was Mom’s little lady, but I was also a curious tomboy of a girl. That part didn’t always set so well with Mom.
When I played in the Mississippi red clay at my Grandmother Russell’s with doodle bugs Mom would say, “You should stay neat and clean like your sister. Girls should be girls. She plays with dolls and tea sets like a little lady.”
I held out my palm and showed her my find. “I love playing with these bugs because they look like Volkswagen cars. Just look how they roll up their tiny bodies.”
Of course, Mom didn’t care to look at bugs, so she’d just shake her head and walk away, and I went on happily playing with the doodle bugs or making mud pies. I wasn’t always the little lady Mom wanted me to be. I loved dirt and mud like a boy, and just like a boy, I usually splashed right through puddles instead of skirting them.
Over the years, I made many footsteps to the bakery, donut shop, or drugstore buying Mom all her favorites. She even taught me how to go to the drugstore and find her favorite hair color in just the right shade. She made me memorize the hair color number. Her hair was supposed to be dark brown after she applied it, at least that’s what the box said, but it was totally black on Mom. She had pale white skin and hazel eyes and dyed her reddish-brown hair coal black because she hated the red highlights girls go for today. The reddish tint kept shining through the brown. She had to have jet black hair, red, red lips, and pearly white teeth like the song Daddy loved. She always kept up her hair and wore it long, hanging straight down her back, or with the ends curved at her shoulders. In her earlier days, as a young mother, she had it permed, but in later years, she’d complain that the perms always frizzed her hair, so she wore it long and straight, like the young girl she always was at heart.
Mom quit school in the 11th grade to stay home and help her father with the younger children when her mother passed. Grandpa had a strawberry farm in Louisiana, and Mom took over the housework and cooking chores, tending to her smaller brothers and sisters and her older sister’s children. She had a large family, four girls and three boys. Mom was next to the youngest.
Mom always talked about growing up on Grandpa’s Louisiana strawberry farm in Springfield. She loved berries, sunshine, and fresh air. She didn’t like packing them though. She was a picker, the fastest one around. She picked two or three handcarriers to my one and had me picking strawberries at dawn when I was five years old before school. And, I picked again, after school in the evenings.
Mom worked for a local schoolteacher who picked us up and took us to her farm, took me to school with her, took us back to the farm after school, and drove us home at dark. So, I’m a product of Louisiana strawberry fields and packing sheds. When I grew up, I decided I liked packing better than picking, and I was a faster packer than I was a picker. I left the picking to Mom, who could outpick anyone around.
Remember, I told you how Mom loved toast and butter with her morning coffee. Well, I happened to get a two-slice pop-up toaster for a wedding gift. I’d drive to Mom’s early in the morning and bring the toaster with me, so she could have her toast and butter with coffee. I wasn’t there to walk to the bakery for her anymore. Besides, the bakery she loved so much had gone out of business.
Years later, I wondered why Mom never broke down and bought herself a toaster. Maybe it was because she was the only one in the family who was toast crazy. Mom was like that. She wouldn’t have spent the money to buy herself a toaster. She figured the family needed it for other things. Now, I wonder if she didn’t buy a toaster because she liked our mother/daughter visits with coffee and toast. She brewed coffee so strong it’d curl your toes and knock off your socks, but I’d manage to weaken it as much as possible with plenty of sugar and cream and sip it with her. Her coffee was always too strong for me.
How I wish I could bring Mom toast and butter or a hot glazed donut for her morning coffee. On her deathbed, she asked, “Did you freeze those glazed donuts?”
How I wish I could bring her ice cream on a hot summer day. I miss her so much. Growing up, I shared candy and love notes with her. We talked about boys and puppy love. I miss those Mom-and-daughter talks. You see, she left years ago. She had cancer, and God called her home. Oh what I wouldn’t give just to be able to bring Mom an order of toast and butter, an ice cream . . . or a hot glazed donut. But, I count my blessings that I had this mother’s love. I’m who I am today because of God and her.
Barbara Russell-Robinson lives in Florida with her husband, a cocker spaniel named Sunflower, and an adopted shelter cat. She’s a member of American Christian Fiction Writers (ACFW) and the Christian Writers Guild (CWG), and a graduate of Long Ridge Writers Group and the CWG's Apprentice and Journeyman level courses. She’s completed a novel, True Hidden Treasures.