Everyone has been made for some particular work, and the desire for that work has been put in every heart. ~Rumi
It is with sore feet and a full day that I am finally having my moment with mum and writing. She amazed me with her ability to accomplish a large list of tasks in one day. I’m sitting here with half of my insanely long list of things I wanted to get done actually finished…there wasn’t enough day to do it all. Mum, on the other hand, would have her house meticulously clean (she really did spring cleaning about weekly), cook the food she wanted to cook, make the things she wanted to make and still have time left over in the day. That’s what it seemed to me anyways.
I always talk to mum when I wipe the floor – her philosophy was a floor should be wiped with a rag on hands and knees. That is the only way to make sure all crevices are clean and I agree. I use the convenience of a mop when I am short on time but I do so with guilt that mum is watching and letting me know I missed the corners.
As I made dinner, I reflected on how what I was cooking was reflective of my life as a whole. I made black beans to go with rice, eggplant from my pops’ garden and I watched over the batch of pickles that were cooking. The eggplant was cooked the only way I know how, the way mum did it. A little oil and stir fried and topped with soy sauce – that is yummy goodness. Rice was made the only way also – in a rice cooker. As we sat down for dinner, I had a plate full of mum’s goodness as I also broke out the seaweed topping that we grew up on, had my happy eggplant and my Japanese rice. This is a happy meal full of many memories of lunch with mum.
The pickles are something I learned a year ago. Canning always intrigued and scared me. My partner’s heritage insists that when the summer cucumbers start coming off the vines, the smell of pickles cooking isn’t far behind. It’s pretty cool to go into our stash and get a jar of something we had chopped, stirred and canned. The sweet pickles we make taste like heaven ,too. What rocks is that we get a lot of cucumbers from Pop’s garden so it’s a great merging of families – all in a little jar. My mum would pickles watermelon rind which I’ve seen in country stores in Virginia but I know they are far different from the ones she made. I don’t think soy sauce is an ingredient of American watermelon pickles. I lament I never got the recipe of her watermelon pickles; they tasted like summer in small little bites.
With exhaustion I went to bed to finish this blog in the morning. As I watched the weather, I realized the heat was starting early so I went out to the garden first thing and did the yard before the sun would be too brutal. I remember mum would go out in the yard before the sun came up to make sure her skin wouldn’t get dark. Since it was wicked early, she edged the yard with scissors as to not wake the neighbors. Pops got her a handheld edger but she preferred her way. Even before most people would get out of bed she would have her flower bed and garden looking crisp and ready to greet the day. I now get it…get things out of the way before the wicked sun zaps all energy.
Mum’s energy was almost unending and I am amazed at all she did. When we were young, she did everything and took care of 3 wee ones. Most of my memory was once we came to the United States and she went to work but I remember even then she would take on so much. I would help her tear down the uniforms for her to repair. Even though I goofed a lot, she would be thankful for the help of taking off buttons and patches as she sewed into the night. Her spirit carried into her work and she had a loyal following of Marines. At her funeral there was a retired Marine that came to pay his respects, he never forgot mum and had some wonderful things to say about her. She left that job a while back but her memory still lingers.
My hope and thanks carry through the traditions I use every day. Mum set an example and like Mary Poppins she had her way of doing things. As I go through my tasks, invoking her way of doing things makes the job go a little faster. And even though she may be watching to make sure I get the corners done, it is with a smile that I scrub a little harder…just for her.