My childhood circle of friends lost a mother this week. I’ve just been told her funeral is Saturday. I don’t think I can be there, and I hope I’ll be forgiven for that.
Her passing is a terrible loss. My mind is awash with all of the wonderful memories I have of her — she was always so good to me when I’d spend time in her house. When I was there I wasn’t just Scott’s friend, over for the day or night. I was part of the family, with all the privledges and responsibilities that entailed. And as I grew older, I spent quite a lot of time there.
She was my source for sweet tea, long before I moved to the south where it’s practically on tap in every kitchen sink. Her recipe for spaghetti sauce included just a hint of sugar, too. I don’t mean to make it sound like she fed her family suger cubes all the time, but at my house we didn’t eat much sugar (I still don’t, really), so the little bit here and there in her cooking was a welcome treat. By the time I was in high school, we had a running joke — it seemed every time I dropped by unannounced, she was making a pot of gumbo. Soon, my appearance was greeted with calls of “Eric’s here. Must be gumbo night!” Once she forgot to add the okra (one of the main thickeners in gumbo). I honestly didn’t notice, but she was embarassed by the soupiness of it. Each time thereafter, she made a production of adding the okra. I’ll miss that.
I’ll miss her. I grieve. For her, for Scott, for the rest of the family, for me.
Good bye, Mrs. Elder. If you ever see me coming, put on a pot of gumbo. But this time, I can bring the okra.