Conversations With My Mother…

Just because someone isn’t here any longer doesn’t mean you don’t talk with them any

Shirley Carson Ray

Shirley Carson Ray

more….or want to anyway.

Mama has been gone since July 16, 2015, almost a year and a half ago.  My intellect knows that we can’t talk any more but the subconscious part instinctively goes there, whenever there is something important in my life, or even unimportant. (I always knew she would care…about whatever it was.) Having her THERE, at the ping of the phone was as much a part of life as the hair and nails that I got from her.

Just in the last week here are several times I wanted to reach out:

*Where is the vanilla pudding recipe?

It’s been raining and cold–oh too cold–and Sabrina said, “you know what would be good right now? Vanilla pudding!!” We were at Daddy’s house. I went to her “family” cookbook, the very un-PC one with the black mammy on the front from her girlhood in Selma, the one with her pretty handwriting in different colors. Flipped through every page. Wasn’t there….

  • Did you know that the song in the Disney movie Moana, nominated for the Golden Globe, was written by Lin-Manuel Miranda?       Mama was in love with the musical Hamilton and Lin-Manuel Miranda from the moment it was announced. I spend nights with her looking up clips…we watched the one over and over of the lovely number he did at his wedding.  I bought tickets for to take her the day they went on sale…before it was quite the phenom it became…to celebrate her recovery. We went without her.

* Who was in the mental hospital?

Depression issues run in our family…. Danny told me a couple months ago that we had one distant cousin who spent an entire lifetime in a mental hospital. Really? Who might that be? Never heard that before. He couldn’t remember. I called cousin Bobbie…maybe from Aunt Laura’s side? “I’ve never heard that,” she said, “but possibly…people didn’t talk about such things back the day.”  Aunt Laura lived to be 107.

  •  I put your jacket in the homeless box.     The box collecting jackets for homeless people sat empty at On Pointe Pilates for a couple weeks.  I decided to put one of Mama’s jackets, actually, a puffy vest in the box. After that the box filled right up.  Mama would like that.

* There’s a book on Ballet Dancers having babies!

I was walking on Sacramento yesterday and the book was in the window, a ballerina leaping in a rehearsal studio, toddler sitting by the mirror. When Mama was a dancer, not only wasn’t that okay, they didn’t even want dancers to get married because babies were sure to follow.  I joked sometimes that, as the first child, I ruined her career. She found out later that the director had considered asking her back after I was born, but decided it would be bad precedent. She loved being a teacher instead.

*”Where is Grandma Grace’s sterling silver?”img_7496

It’s surely in Mama and Daddy’s house, but where? For some reason Sabrina and I were talking about sterling, but then we couldn’t put our fingers on it.

Maybe to use for the vanilla pudding we didn’t get to have the other night. The real obstacle to our pudding was that we were out of milk.

We do have the recipe for pudding of course. In the family cookbooks she made for all of us, each recipe lovingly copied out by hand in her beautiful swooping handwriting. Among the many thoughtful legacies to treasure during this, her favorite time of the year.


About Karen Ray

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