As a youngster who wanted to go to daily mass, I recall returning home and seeing her at the doorway from afar yelling for me to stop by the Big Store and get a loaf of bread. I didn’t need money; we just told the clerk to “charge it.”
She knew my love for sweets and shared it herself. During Lent she and I abstained from candy and how sweet it was when we could indulge ourselves at Easter. Whenever anything got lost she reminded me to pray to St. Anthony, the patron saint of the lost, I guess. I don’t remember
it being all that effective but it was her solution for the misplaced stuff.
When I developed a ringworm on my scalp, she took me to Dr. Mudd’s office where he asked me, “Does it hut?” before treating it. The same was true with my frequent sore throats where he applied iodine with a long cotton swab on a stick. It worked flawlessly. The pet names Mama used with me will remain unspoken but they were another token of her special affection.
She made the cherry pies which remain my favorite to this day, closely rivaled by the apple roll,
both from the fruit of trees in our backyard that survived the poaching of the birds… who survived our BB guns.
She made underwear for the boys out of material from chicken feed bags. Sewing, washing and
ironing clothes in the days before automatic washers and dryers was indeed a tiresome chore.
Cooking for a family of ten before convenience foods was a never ending obligation.
My great regret is that I so little understood her later struggles with depression and the bottle. The long siege of raising kids with never enough money, and a relationship with my father that had cooled over the years must have been factors. Before her death, she had tried to get my thoughts on the right to die literature she had been reading. But I was too obtuse to connect the dots. I might have been able to deter her had I been a little less self absorbed and more alert.