Grief And Loss

Shoes, Skirts, and Potato Salad

There is nary a thing these days that doesn’t remind me of my mom. Yep I used the word “nary” so sue me, lol! Things I once took for granted are all linked to her. Using a particular powder brings back summer memories of heat rashes and her soothing hands. Seeing people drain out the marrow in a chicken bone (a totally island thing) reminds me of her. I would only chew down my mommas chicken bones. Nobody cooks better than ya mama. Didn’t trust other people’s food like that.

I would show up after work to see her. Fix my self (cause you never come looking any kinda way to see your Haitian mama.) She would look me up and down and pause. Wait for it! “Mwe remmen jupe ou.” Translation: I like your skirt. She gave compliments out like giving out gold at Fort Knox! My mom sewed my clothes for years and I hated it! So if that lady said she liked a skirt or dress, she was saying she liked the cut, the pattern, the fit. I never leave the house without making sure I was well put together. Mamman wouldn’t allow that. And I’d be damned if I would have her spinning in her grave now that she’s gone. I have been addicted to patterned skirts lately. These hippy thighs aren’t afraid to work them. Wish I could have her make me another 9th grade gingham dress now! Seeing her old photos has given me confidence to let patterns rule my closet.

She never met a shoe she didn’t like. And neither have I nor my brother. He collects sneakers, I collect any pretty gem that my skinny feet (so much like hers) could slide into. A friend would always bemoan her size 10’s and always said I could be a foot model. Never paying her any mind, now realizing that my mom and I shared these same feet, these same hands. She couldn’t wear my stilettos and pumps but she didn’t mind admiring them on me–her only girl.

Comfort food will always be potato salad. A Sunday dish my brother and I would dive into with relish. She was heavy on the onions, light on the mayo, and liberal with the sweet peas and sliced carrots. Yeah we were getting our veggies in (in her motherly calculations) but oh what a way to meet one’s nutritional quota. I have not tasted her potato salad in some years (the disease had taken her energy for cooking years before) and none have come close. But I’m still on a quest. Even if it’s just for a flash in the pan memory of something I will never taste again.

My husband indulges me in the telling of my “mama stories.” I say them out loud for fear of one day forgetting. I pen them and gratefully. The randomness of an act or gesture becomes all that you have of your loved one.


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