Do you remember when I used to bake pies to order for my teachers and my classmates in high school? Although, I think CJ was pretty much the only classmate who ever actually ordered anything from me, and then it had been a chocolate cream pie, which was really only chocolate pudding in a shell, and then it was only cuz she felt kind of sorry for me. I can’t help but wonder now if my classmates thought I was a little cuckoo.
I was always trying to come up with ways to make money back then. We were just so poor, it seemed sometimes. But you never once questioned my ridiculous ideas (like when I collected pine cones from Grandma’s yard and tried to sell them to the neighbors for a buck a piece—eh hemm tried to sell my fabulous instructions for turning pine cones into bird feeders, I mean). You took me very seriously, even though I was batshit looney.
Well, flash back to that day in high school when I had made an apple pie for my show choir director: Mrs. Johnson hadn’t been around when I went to drop it off that morning, so I stuck it in a drawer in the girls’ dressing room in the music hall at school. But I went back later that day to collect it—remember?—and I found a trail of apple-cinnamon smears across the floor and then sticky, flaky pie crust chunks all over the make-up counter. And when I opened the drawer, the pie was still partially in there, turned upside down and all smooshed and broken, the tin pan all crushed. Remember? And there was a note scrawled on a paper towel, hardly legible, stuck to the top of that sticky, gooey mess.
I don’t remember what that note said, really. But I do remember how much it hurt.
I held myself together really well that day. I didn’t cry. I didn’t complain. I just sat through my classes, not really saying much, because it’s hard to talk—to open your mouth even—when the only thing that wants to come out is sadness.
I made it all the way home, and I thought I was fine. But then I called you at work, and the moment you said, “Hello,” I started to sob. Big chunky, breath-filled sobs that don’t leave room for words. Except I must have gotten something out, because I remember you were really upset you couldn’t leave work to come home.
Except, you came home anyway. Somehow. And by then, my sobbing had subsided enough that I felt embarrassed to let you see me looking all red in my damsel-in-distress mode. But you didn’t say anything. You didn’t ask questions or try to get me to talk. You just pulled me into your arms and held me like a baby, and you told me I was special.
Do you remember when I called you from Bigger Bean’s track meet the other day with that super good news? She had just finished running her race—the 2400, I think—when I got the news, and I squealed. Frick, I actually squealed like a hungry piglet in the middle of all those people, and then I squeezed Hubs and handed him the phone so he could see, and then I stomped my feet on the aluminum bleachers a little bit, and then I shouted, “I have to call Mom!” and then I raced down the bleachers, skipping and slipping, until I was away from the crowd, and I called you, and you picked up and started to say, “I was just about to ca—“ except I cut you off to tell you the news, and then I squealed tons more, and then you squealed, and we were both squealing like piglets, and then you cheered and said, “SEE! I TOLD you!” and then you said you’d call Grandma and Grandpa, and then Grandma and Grandpa called me, and it was a total squealing lovefest. Remember?
You’ve always been the first one I wanted to call.
Thank you for that.
Today, Little Bean fell and scraped her knee while running around in the garden with Hubs. And she called out to me, wailing, “Mommy, Mommy!” and it hurt me to hear the pain in her voice, and I shoved my laptop aside, and I went running for her and scooped her up, but I didn’t say anything. I just held her like a baby and cooed and told her she was special.
Thanks for that, too, Mom.