The almond cookies bitten through, the fortune cookies cracked. Even the egg foo young was done, each deliciously unctuous, brown-sauced bite forked, savored, swallowed.
There was only one thing left to do. Like a conjurer, my mother gracefully sweeps her hands over the table finishing with fists full of soy sauce packets. She kicks refrigerator door open wide and shuffles the deck of sauce packets into the side compartment with the finesse and aplomb of a Vegas black jack dealer.
There are already about hundred sauce packets saved inside. Why so many saved? She winks and smiles. Because, you know, you never know.
The Sweetest Hour
It was the sweetest hour. The sky was dim but not dark. The warm scent of lilacs were bursting from their buds, the heady perfume mingling with the verdant clip of newly mown grass. Too early in the season for the Dads and the barbeques. But just right for the jump ropes and bikes out on the streets. Who could be anywhere but outside? And so we were. All of us.
The car came from nowhere and it came fast. No one looked up until the screech of tires. Our sheepdog, Charlotte, had wandered into the middle of the street. When the car came at her she froze, to frightened to move.
But still safe. Because my mother had leapt out of nowhere to throw herself between the oncoming car and her baby, our dog. The car just missed them both. My mother could leap? She could. And she did.
Hudson’s Department Store
My mother’s hands, as lithe and as delicate as the wings of a moth, glide over the makeup counter, Tangee or Cherries in the Snow? A spritz of Evening in Paris on her wrist, the scent envelops me, warms me as she curls her arm around my shoulders. Like identically dressed ions the three of us pirouette and skip around her, our focus, our center. As we journey through the store I run my hand over the highways and byways of raw silk, through the satisfying bumps and nubbles of Harris Tweed, down deep through the soft thicket of cashmere.
If we are good —oh we are trying to be good—we will have a special lunch in the Hudson’s Dining Room. We sit together in a banquette of green leather. Our feet dangle precariously from the seat and our toes stretch to touch the carpet. We peek: your toes barely touch too!. Peanut butter and jelly, a cookie, a carton of milk, a slightly mashed banana for each of us. Cup after cup of black coffee from a silver pot poured for you. Our lunch comes in a fancy bag. There is a prize inside too but it almost doesn’t matter. What we want most is to be here, to sit right across the table from you.
Your life is a million marvelous little moments. These are just a few. Thank you everything past, thank you for everything yet to come. Happy birthday, Mom. And many, many more.