A memory: The last time I saw my motherOffbeat

Today is Mother’s Day, and I wanted to take the time out to share an excerpt from my book. I polled my beta readers and the following story is not the one that won the most votes, but it was the one that my heart said to share with you. Let me know your thoughts, I always welcome feedback and I can’t wait to have the book available for sale. 

My memory is a little fuzzy. The last time I saw her, the air was filled with the sweet fresh flower aroma that the large magnolia tree wafted every spring. But, if memory serves me correctly, the flowers only bloom briefly between April and May before the leaves bud to provide summer shade. My memory is fuzzy because I can’t believe the last time I saw her was in the spring before she passed in July. I went two months not seeing her before she passed? Perhaps, it saddens me now to think that is so. But the memory of the smell of the flowers is so strong in my mind, I can’t help, but believe that it was spring when I last saw her.

She was out of remission and was to be readmitted to the hospital that morning. I was upstairs and my father yelled from the bottom of the stairs for me to make my mother some eggs before she left for the hospital.

I took a shower, got dressed, and made some eggs. I didn’t think anything of it. I just was going about my morning routine. When I brought her the scrambled eggs with toast, she and my father yelled at me for taking so long. I stood there, watching her in her robe and turban take a bite of the eggs. She spit it out, threw the fork on the tray, and yelled “It’s too salty!” “What is wrong with you? It’s too salty, I can’t eat this. Take it away now!” My father proceeded to yell at me and told me if I hadn’t taken so long getting dressed, I would have paid more attention to making proper eggs.

I was upset. I tried the eggs as I walked back to the kitchen. They weren’t salty.

I was lounging in my room, upset that I was yelled at when C, a family friend came over to drive my mother to hospital. My mother was in the passenger side seat of the jeep, while C and my father gathered her belongings to pack up in the car.

I ran outside, the aroma of the magnolia flowers followed me. I ran up to the window and told my mom “I’m sorry I made the eggs too salty and took too long to cook them.” She looked at me, eyes filled with sadness, touched my hands, and said “It’s okay.” I wanted to say so much more, but C and my father walked outside and it was time for her to go. So I ran back inside, but first I caught the look C gave me; such pity. I didn’t need pity, I needed a mother.

 That is my last memory of her. My last in person memory of her. We spoke on the phone, but I didn’t see her again.

Years later when my father was remodeling the house, he wanted to cut down the magnolia tree to make room for the upstairs expansion. I screamed, I yelled, and I told him it was wrong. The tree could not be cut down and if he went through with the decision to cut down the tree, I would chain myself to the tree and embarrass him in front of the entire neighborhood. He ended up compromising and cutting a few branches.

 What he didn’t know, the magnolia tree was my goodbye to her. She loved to garden. I could walk by the tree every day and see her. Though I didn’t get to see her before she passed, I could still look at that tree and smile. Smile when it bloomed and it released a fresh aroma. Smile when the buds sprouted leaves large enough to provide protection from the sun in the summer. Even smile when it laid bare after fall or all covered in calming snow in the winter.  In reality, there was no last time I saw her. I see her every day in that magnolia tree. 

***Lisa-Marie 

An urban planning PhD student finding peace in creating a balance between the mind, body, soul, & environment.

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Photo Credit: Lisa-Marie Pierre

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