The table was a sprawling tapestry of culinary delectation! My nose was helplessly seduced by the meandering aromas that filled the living space of our home. It was Thanksgiving, and my mother had spent the working hours of a day confined to the laboratory that was her kitchen.
Throughout the day and filled with a youthful sense of entitlement, I spent the day sneaking in and out of my mother’s area of comestible dominance. Much to her dismay.
I couldn’t help myself. Those aromatic flounces enticed my nares to the point of ravenous desire. No matter where I was within my home, I could smell it. Taste it. Picture it and then begin to crave it all the more.
My mother had started her preparation early that weekend morning. I was awoken by the soft, redolent and ethereally conjoining flavors gently tapping against my nose. Its effect was that of a gleeful spring from my covers as I took flight from my mattress.
My mother’s cooking was second to none. Now, I know that we all say that about our mother’s, and I am sure that it is true, your mother was likely an amazing cook… but not like my mum! No way!!
I was excited to not only have the company of succulently rising flavors greet me that morning, but also quietly jovial to see a trundling sea of low-hanging rain clouds resting overtop of our little town. The perfect day to be thankful. And thankful I was. As well as excited.
Thanksgiving was always a good time in our family. There was typically very little in the way of drama or tension. And a plethora of gluttony to be had. My mother would go all out.
I said that she had started early that morning, but I am pretty sure she had planned out what she was going to make and how she was going to make it weeks in advance – and it always paid off!
I’ve always loved this time of year. I loved it then and I love it now. The time of year when the leaves don a regalia of yellow, orange and cardinal red. It’s the time of year when that slight chill in the air sneaks past your skin and tickles your bones. There is always hockey on the TV and a game going on outside on some quiet little side street. Staccatos of wrist shots and slap shots are taken until perfection is reached. Blisters on the hands don’t matter – there’s a game to win.
Looking back, I grow more fondly of that time in my life. And that is because of my mother’s presence on those days of thanks. In the present, I am still fond of this season and this holiday – I am just aware of a certain sadness that now hangs around with that little chill in the air…
My mother’s not here… not any more…
But, she was back then. So, let me tell you more about that. My mother would spend hours on her aching feet sifting through pluming clouds of flour as she punched and kneaded dough into perfect consistency. She would tear whole loafs of bread apart with mathematical precision and toss it into a bowl where magic would happen and stuffing would be made! Ahh, my mother’s stuffing… there is no substitute.
And in the background, immersed within a sea of its own juices and savory decadence, tucked safely away within the warm embrace of the oven – the turkey! My God, the turkey! It was seasoned with a hidden recipe of flavors and love. Cooked through over stacking hours (much to my dismay) until it was a golden brown, featherless and headless torso of delight! It was perfect. Something so beautiful that you didn’t want to eat it – until you tasted it – then you would savagely inhale its tryptophanic tenderness. And inhale I would.
I would forgo any semblance of proper dining etiquette and heathenistically devour every scrap, every morsel of food that had been placed onto my plate. I was typically allowed a glass of wine on occasions such as these, so I would often pause, raise my glass to my lips and feel as the diminutive bubbles in my glass leaped and exploded with brilliance onto the tip of my nose. Turkey and white bubbly – what a mix!
I have not had a meal prepared by my mother in over a decade. A regret that I will carry with me for the remainder of my days in this life. It is not that she has been dead for decades – quite the opposite, actually – she has only been gone for a matter of months. Months that feel like weeks and weeks that feel like days and days that are more akin to hours and hours to seconds… Life just got in the way is all. Seemingly so… and now, it’s too late – she’s gone.
I am sad that my mother is no longer here. I am angry that it was suicide that took her. I am bewildered at the reality of it all. But, I am also grateful… I am blessed to have had such moments in the past where my mother was alive, well, and happy. As I write this, I can hear her laugh, something that I have struggled to recall over these painful few months. I am grateful that I can hear it. What a heartbreakingly euphonious sound it is. Yes, I am grateful for it all. I am delighted that I possess memories such as the one I shared with you. Many people do not. I am thankful to have been loved and to have loved such a woman as my mum. I am overjoyed that I am still loved by those around me. I have amazing people in my life. People who care for me with endless amounts of energy. I am fortunate to be alive and well.
I may be lonely without my dear ol’ mum and her talents in the kitchen – but I am for certain not alone – and I could not be more grateful for that!
Happy Thanksgiving, everyone.
And mum… thanks!