“To describe my mother would be to write about a hurricane in it’s perfect power.”--Maya Angelou
It was raining hard in October. I wasn’t very surprised after all, it was the beginning of fall or Autumn and rain is supposed to be a normal thing for this time of the year. But, it had been a long time since rain fell from the sky in any month. I was excited and didn’t even use my umbrella as I walked to the car. My hair got wet and I didn’t even care. I jumped in a puddle like I was a toddler and laughed hard. My next door neighbor probably thought I lost my mind or was drunk but I didn’t care. I was on my way to visit my mom. The first week in October was our week to hang out together and talk over a hot cup of tea for her and hot chocolate with perfectly awkward shaped tiny marshmallows of different colors. I like the green and pink ones the best. The pink ones reminded me of Thanksgiving. Always on Thanksgiving since I was a small child I wore something pink. One year it was a pink ribbon in my curly brown hair, another year it was my pink sneakers and last year I wore a pink ribbon pinned on my shirt for my best friend who was fighting breast cancer. The green ones reminded me of Christmas. I love to look at the Christmas lights that hang from trees, homes, doorways, driveways and all over. The green ones always twinkled the most on our Christmas tree. My mom said that every time the green lights twinkled, it was Grandpa who was wishing us a Merry Christmas from heaven. He loved the color green and even got married to Grandma in a lime green suit. I think that Grandma, although she loved him dearly with all her heart and soul, was glad that they had eloped with him in that green suit.
My mom was almost 83 years old now. She had more wrinkles that I call smile lines and her hair was a little more grey and she moved just a little slower. She didn’t do as much as she used to do that included driving. She stopped driving her little red and white corvette four years ago. I know she hated to give up driving but she knew it was time. On her great granddaughter’s seventeenth birthday she handed over the keys to her and winked at her and told her the car was hers, to enjoy it but be drive safely. That’s the kind of person Mom is. She deeply believed in blessing others with anything she had. She passed on many blessings to others over the years.
I pulled into the driveway of my childhood house just in time for the rain to stop. I popped open the trunk and grabbed my bags. My bags were filled with construction paper of all colors, colored pencils, markers, crayons, scissors, and even my mom’s favorite candy. I closed the trunk and almost skipped to the front door. Being with Mom brought out the little girl in me. I felt like I was 10 years old again.
Mom was sitting at the table waiting for me. Her white and blue tee shirt was tucked into her black slacks. She had on her bunny slippers that I gave her for her last birthday. We both smiled big smiles when we saw each other and hugged each other in a tight embrace. I didn’t want to let go. Just something about this hug felt different. I wished that I could just hug her forever.
“So, baby girl are you ready?”
“Yeah, Mom. I got the stuff. Do you want me to make the tea and hot chocolate?”
“I already started the teapot. But, you can finish it if you would like.” Mom said as she sat down at the dining room table looking into my bags.
“Be right back, Mom and then we can start.”
I walked back into the dining room carrying a big tray of donuts, cheese, crackers, tea cookies and of course, tea for Mom and hot chocolate for me with extra little marshmallows. As I set the tray on the table I noticed my mom was stretching out her fingers. That only meant she was ready for our crafting mini marathon. My mom glanced up at me and smiled. She sipped her hot tea and took a jelly filled donut from the tray and placed it in front of her.
“So, what did you get?” My mom asked.
“I got some construction paper in all colors and some markers and the usual.” I said putting all the contents of the bags on the table one by one.
“You did a good job, Baby Girl with the colors this year.”
“I know I was surprised at how many colors of paper I found at the craft store. “ I said, grabbing a piece of orange paper and the scissors.
“Baby, you know I love doing this with you every year. Just me and you sitting here at this table which has seen so many people gathered around it over the years and so much food and drinks. Remember Uncle Joe who would always have some drama during Thanksgiving? Your dad would bring the turkey in and it was Uncle Joe’s job to carve it and he would always get mad at Aunt Hilda and stomp off in a huff and puff and we all would be waiting for the turkey and Hilda would cuss him out and he would cuss her out and pretty soon the whole family was cursing and screaming until your dad brought out his big whistle he used when he coached football and blow it. Everyone would cover their ears but they would all shut up.” My mom laughed as she cut a piece of green paper to form a leaf.
“Yeah, I remember and let’s not forget that Easter when Uncle Nobel was supposed to cook and he burned the ham and we had fried fish for dinner. That was the first and last time we had fried fish and potato salad on Easter.” I chuckled.
“Yep, and Cousin Eugene was allergic to fish. He was pissed that all he could eat was potato salad, green beans and yams.” Mom said folding another piece of paper in the form of a square.
“This fall wreath is looking pretty good.” I told Mom as I glued the leaves we had cut together on the Styrofoam circle in front of us.
“It is coming along. I think I will put this one on the front door when we are done. But, not on the outside, on the inside where I can see it all day long.”
“Good idea Mom. We still have a ways to go before it is done.”
“Hey remember right over there in the family room your sister went into labor on Christmas Eve?” Mom said laughing so hard I thought she was going to cry.
“How can I forget?” I glued another leaf on our creation.
“I thought she was going to have that baby right then and there. Thank goodness her useless husband, Franklin, got her to the hospital on time.” Mom laughed again.
“Hey Mom, look at this. I think I made a fall snowflake.” I laughed at how my cutting of the paper took a wrong turn.
“Even though it doesn’t snow in Fall, except in the Fall of 1967, we can use it as decoration on our wreath too. After all, it is our creation and we can put what we want on it.” Mom placed the snowflake near the top of the wreath.
“You know what?” I asked my mom.
“I’m glad we started doing this when I was little. How did you get the idea to start?” I asked gluing a reddish color flower to the wreath.
“Well, out of all my children you were the most creative. You were always writing stories, drawing pictures, having full blown theater productions with your dolls, and the one time you painted your room that awful brown color, so I had to find something to do with you before you painted the whole house brown.” Mom laughed.
“Mom, you are nuts. I only painted on a tiny spot on my bedroom wall brown to see how it would look.”
“Hand me the purple paper please. I am going to make some purple flowers for our wreath.”
I handed Mom the paper and I just leaned back in my chair and watched how she meticulously cut each and every petal of the flower to perfection. I could tell she was getting tired and her hands were starting to bother her a bit but she continued to cut tiny flowers, and bigger flowers in all hues of purple, red, green and orange and she even threw in a brown one. I admired her more than she would ever know.
“Jada, what are you looking at? Girl, we have more to cut if we want to get this done by dinner time. Now, stop looking at me and start cutting and gluing.” Mom shook her head as she said it.
“I’m doing it Mama. I just can’t keep up with you.” I laughed slightly.
“Speaking of keeping up. Remember that time I beat you in the 2k race?”
“Mama, I can’t believe you brought that up. Yes, I do remember and I remember that you told all of your friends and all of the aunts, uncles, grand kids, nieces, cousins, just everyone that you beat me. You even told my best friend, Kina. How can I forget? You tell that story every holiday.”
Mom laughed so hard that her eyes really did cry tears that time. She had one of those good laughs that come from your belly. The kind of laugh that makes you cry and almost wet your pants. It was good to see Mom laugh like that. Pretty soon we both were laughing like that. Holding our sides and crying with laughter.
“Mom, look. I think we finished one wreath. One down and three to go.” I said proudly holding up our creation.
“Yeah, baby. It looks good. Now, we have to get started on Aunt Lauren’s one. She would not speak to me if she didn’t get one this year. Remember we forgot her last year and she didn’t speak to me for a week.”
“I know. She is something else. We need to make her a red and gold one to match her red couch and gold rug.” I suggested.
“Right, baby, she has no sense of decor but I love her anyway.” Mama jokes.
Mama passed away two days after Fall in 2019. I will always remember those table side chats and those crazy fall decorations we would make together. Those were the best times. I will always treasure our construction paper decorations.
“Hey Mom, are you ready to make our fall decorations?” My own daughter screamed from the kitchen table.
“Coming baby girl.” I smiled as I walked to the kitchen and sorted out the construction paper.