Best of Bridge: Baking with My Mum
A few things have happened in the two months (plus) since I’ve blogged. One? I was very sick. No. Really. Very sick. And it changed my life in a way I’m not quite ready to share here but I can tell you this:
I bake more.
I cook and bake more.
Mostly I bake. I love to bake.
Another thing which didn’t happen to me but affected me? My friend’s mum died. My mum died going on nine years now; but today I was about to bake (peanut butter and jam squares) and it reminded me to dig up my mother’s cookbooks (my sister took the jewellery and THAT is another blog for another day: I took the cookbooks).
My friend had a rough go of it and I re-lived some of the mixed feelings one has when a parent dies: anger, frustration, denial, sorrow. I am too lazy to ask Dr Google the list of things one goes through after a death but you get the idea: it’s a bumpy ride.
But you see, for me it was different. My mother and I always had a bumpy ride of it but in her final years, as dementia took over, our relationship blossomed. I’m not trying to be funny here (usually, I try, but this time it’s just what it is). Our best years were likely her last two years. We had a beautiful relationship. Our antagonism was gone. I’d call her and every call was a joy. Even if I had called twice in the same day. She was always thrilled to hear from me and we chatted up a storm. She was jolly and happy. Sunny, for lack of a better word. Our best years. And I cherished them.
So when she died, I mourned but I was grateful to have had that time with her. All those angry moments and horrible things that came out of my mouth. They disappeared (she forgot, and hopefully forgave) and our relationship was fresh. New. When I became a mother, I saw my mum through very different eyes. I was sad she was gone when DS1 was only seven weeks old. But she got to see him, hold him as best she could. My last photo of her is her reaching out to him. My father (now gone, too) could never look at this photo, the last ever taken of his wife of 62 years.
Only two weeks earlier we’d been out for a visit and Mum was still at home, sitting up, all seemed tickety-boo.
So today, looking for recipes for my next venture, I happened across the fabulous BEST OF BRIDGE books I filched from my parents’ house. And for the first time. Today. I saw this note:
I was kind of blown away. Maybe this isn’t profound for any of you but for me, it caused me to burst into tears.
I was touched she wrote down who gave her the book, and when. Like it was important to her. And I guess it was. To me, I remember the book, loved it. But I don’t remember ever seeing the note before and I have used this book at least 100 times.
I guess the notes appear when the child is ready.
And I got to wondering: does my mother forgive me for being such a pain-in-the-arse kid? Mouthy. Self-righteous. Troublesome. Does she forgive me? Did she, when we were at our worst fights, think in the back of her mind that one day I will understand. One day I’ll fight with my own child and suddenly “get it?” About love, fights, harsh words. And forgiveness. We never had any “talks” and never addressed any of our issues. I only told her once I loved her (and she, me) and that was just before surgery on her aorta. It was an awkward moment for us both.
So I wondered, as I looked for a recipe for orange cake (found it) tears in my eyes: could she forgive me, would she, after the fights, the shitty things I’ve said, or thought, over the years? Just because we all do it doesn’t excuse it. Would she know nine years later—even though she’s gone and I have no way to tell her—I’m sorry and that I love her?
I am thinking she knows and forgives. Anyhoodle, Mum, I love you. Thanks for all that hamburger soup (p. 129) you made for me from this cookbook when I was sick.
And everything else. Every.