4. I heard my mother laugh today ... It was as though bubbles, sparkling effervescence, appeared from nowhere. Her laughter filled my heart ... and burned my eyes. I could get her to laugh more often ... I could hear that routinely, if I would call her.
Two is home ... between semesters ... sitting her quiet time right across the table from me ... sipping her light sweet coffee and smiling over her Mac. Sorta like looking in a mirror 'cept we don't look a thing alike on the outside.
"What is rhubarb?"
I look up and start telling her ... She looks confused ... My hands get into the explanation.
" ... I know you've seen it ... Long pieces about as thick as my finger ... Pretty sure it comes in different gauges ... They put it inside concrete to strengthen it ... "
She laughs ... I like to hear her laugh. "Momma ... I'm talking 'bout something people eat ...".
Oh. I have an ear infection today ... I think. It's like swimmer's ear. It is driving me bonkers a n d I can't hear anything except the continuous hum of the air conditioner and something else that sounds like florescent lights (ours aren't) ... It's making me think I have to go to the doctor ... I don't have a doctor, except my AME ... He's a pediatrician ... bet he knows all about messy ears. "Oh, yeah sure ... Rhubarb. Looks like red celery. Tastes a little bit like strawberries. People make pies with it".
She looks up at me through her eyelashes ... "Mom, if that's not better by tomorrow you have to make a doctor's appointment". She sounds very firm. I look back down at my screen ... I am learning about the universe ... I don't have time to sit in the doctor's office with a bunch of sick crying babies ... but I say nothing.
"Sour milk" I answer looking over at her. She is so pretty and so grown up. "My daddy had a small carton of it on the grocery list every week ... He used it in pancakes, cornbread, and muffins ... cakes ... .". My hands are out again ... I'm shaping the size of the carton. "If he ran out of it before grocery shopping day, he would put something in regular milk ... I think it has a higher fat content then regular milk ... Idk", I say.
"Yeah ... Vinegar", she says "Or lemon juice".
I smile, remembering. My dad liked to cook. And boy could he mess up a clean kitchen! "Uh huh, that's it ... Sometimes he would break up his cornbread and put it in a cold glass of buttermilk.". She wants to know what it tastes like and why it was preferred.
We go back to our respective screens ... I'm worried that is might be too cloudy to see a shooting star tonight ... I have wishes to make ... this is the peak night for that ... No, I do not believe in wishes and I don't have any idea what I would wish for ... but my heart does.
"I can go get some buttermilk for you if you'd like ... ". (Uh oh ... I just this second remembered ... I say if you'd like or if you want or if you need ... My dad said, if you wish or as you wish or because you wished ... My dad, granter of wishes. I had forgotten. I have actually become self-conscious about being wishful. Thank you Daddy.
She asks me what else my dad liked to cook and I tell her. He made pretty much everything and really seemed to enjoy it. She raises her eyebrows when I say he made the best damn chili ... I laugh ... "That was the name of his recipe", I tell her and she shakes her head smiling.
Momma baked quite well ... like the best pie crust you've ever eaten and bread that smelled like what I'm sure heaven will smell like ... fresh bread and baby lotion ... and sky and ocean ... and fresh cut grass and waterfalls ... . Okay, a lot of different smells. I tell her my momma made bread in coffee cans and I thought she was genius, because the bread came out with lines on it like cutting guides. Guess I've always been a big fan of orderly. Hahaha.
"Coffee cans have lines on them ... you know that right"? I think about pulling her leg ...
"Momma ... call her. Ask her how she made her pie crusts. Please."
So ... I do. I talked with her for a couple of hours ... I never talk on the phone like that. I cleaned the microwave and the kitchen cabinet doors, I emptied and started refilling the dishwasher and tidied the pantry ... I folded a big load of towels ... I listened to my mother laugh today.
... and tonight I'm going to wish upon a star.