Some birthdays are easy to remember like when the family got together and my favorite aunt bought a cake that set the bar for all cakes proceeding it. A January birthday meant I could wear the dress my gramma made for Christmas. Uncle Clifford snapped a Kodachrome memory.
On birthday number five, all my friends set at the extended dining room table. I remember the balloons. I remember blowing into a red balloon and it expanded out and away and I swear it grew nearly as long as the table.
It was the ninth grade, in Sophie Pouch’s English class, we passed the reading of Macbeth from reader to reader until it went all around the classroom yet still was not done. The next day we did it again and again, when finally, it was finished.
And Shakespeare’s words went out into those hallways of the school with a morning greeting of “How now, you secret, black, and midnight hags?” as we congregated around our lockers. A commanding response of “Speak. Demand. We’ll listen.” “Had I three ears, I’d hear thee.” And on it went into our school day.
Autumn moonlight— a worm digs silently into the chestnut. Basho
dVerse prompt to consider Shakespeare and Basho in a haibun. I will never forget Sophie Pouch’s ninth grade English class.
I was in my mother’s kitchen. It is autumn and she is about to die. Years later my father died in the springtime. They were opposites like that. Mom was a believer. Dad said, “When you’re dead, you’re dead.” Mom was always nice to people and dad would care less. Dad drank himself into a stupor and my sober mother always helped to carry him home, or to rehab.
My mother’s kitchen was her workshop and out of it came strawberry rhubarb pie, fudge brownies, fudge, meringue on pies or simply cooked on a baking sheet, peanut butter cookies she would crisscross with a fork, peanut brittle, anise candy, cinnamon rolls, French breakfast puffs and tapioca pudding. She loved sweets.
My father’s workshop was in the basement, just like his father before him. Every tool was hung up in order across the wall over a huge workbench. Those tools hung so perfectly, waiting for him to pick them up and build something, anything.
It was the end of summer. The family had spent a few weeks in Iowa where my mother was now in hospice because of cancer. Both grandchildren spent time at her bedside and played with cousins, saw aunts and uncles and enjoyed the rare occasion of the whole family being together.
My younger sister would be the nurse. She had the training. I was worthless and returned home so the children could start school. In a few days I got the call. I booked a ticket to leave the next day. The children wanted to know why I was going again, since I had just been there.