What Lies Ahead…
As the New Year approached, Maggie found herself deep in thought of the possibilities that might be afforded her in the upcoming days.
Surely this would be ‘her’ year, she surmised to herself.
Sitting by the bedside of her sleeping aged mother, she began to reminisce.
Yes, it seemed like only yesterday that Mother was busy in the kitchen. Mother loved this time of year as she cooked endless cakes and goodies for the holidays.
Maggie followed her mother around in the kitchen, gleaning everything possible in the cooking arena. Maggie could not remember ever seeing Mother without an apron on—it was just a natural order, once Mother put on her dress, the apron followed, systematically. You know the one that tied around the waist, no bib, and had two pockets on it just in case she needed to put something in them for later use.
It was evident that Mother was a genius for sure; she cooked everything from sight, a little bit of this, a pinch of that; she seemed to know just how much of anything to add. The end results were always DELICIOUS!
Mother never failed to tell Maggie that the secret to successful cooking was in the tasting; you must taste the flavors to tell when the ingredients were added correctly, or if you needed to add extra amounts or flavors.
Her cakes and cookies were evidence as was everything else Mother cooked—nothing ever needed to be added once the table was filled with her food.
Maggie was very attentive, watching how Mother scooped out just the right amount of lard in her hand to add to the flour, then poured milk in her wooden mixing bowl to make the dough ball. The kneading process was very important, according to Mother, not to be taken lightly. The biscuits that were made from that wooden bowl were countless through the years; but the same wonderful taste always abounded. Mother made sure she had just the right amount of each ingredient to be able to pinch off a wad, roll it in her hand till she had it uniform, then press it flatly onto her black iron skillet that was already greased for the cooking. After the allotted time, the flat black iron skillet with its iron handle was handled with care as Mother pulled it from the oven, biscuits brimming to be devoured.
And of course, Daddy had the butter dish and syrup bottle next to his plate because as soon as the biscuits were placed on the table, he was the first one to them!
He would cut the biscuit in the middle, lay it open flat on his plate and spread butter and syrup on it. Laughingly he told of his boyhood days when the simplest and quickest way to eat a biscuit was to stick his finger in the middle and make a hole through the top and fill it up with butter and syrup. Now since he was older, though, he decided it would be more appropriate to saturate both pieces with butter and syrup. That’s how Maggie learned how to eat syrup and biscuits. She smiled to herself as her memory card filed this episode back into the recesses of her mind.
Mother began to move around a bit and peeped out of one eye to see Maggie sitting by her side. Mother smiled and patted Maggie’s hand, thanked her for being there, then slipped back off to sleep.
Maggie’s eyes teared up as she looked at this precious Mother of hers now nearing eternity’s door. She leaned over quietly and kissed Mother on the forehead. She took Mother’s fragile hand and pressed it against her own cheek as tears rolled down her face, feeling the bond of love that had always been theirs.
Memories, precious memories, flooded Maggie’s mind, too numerous to tell, but definitely loaded on individual memory cards filed away in Maggie’s mind. She kissed Mother’s hand as she held it close for a while.
Another memory flashed in Maggie’s mind—when the boy was born. Yes, Maggie’s son was the highlight of Mother and Daddy’s older days. As custom would have it back in the day, they lived next door and of course being the only grandchild the boy was afforded ANYTHING!
Alex learned as just a little tike that he ruled the roost at Grandma’s house. When he was old enough to read, he saw a plaque once in a store and asked Maggie to please let him buy it, for it read: “There’s no place like home, except Grandma’s!”
He beamed with pride when he presented it to Grandma, and she cried like a baby as he read it to her! Grandma’s reading ability was limited so it pleased Alex to read something to her as he learned to read. Of course, many times in his Little Golden story books, he would explain the pictures in story form even if the story didn’t read the way he explained it. Grandma loved those times.
He was Granddaddy’s boy from the onset, always pulling something from Granddaddy’s pockets, money most times. Maggie’s aunt Sissy had given Alex a plastic egg when he was a baby that was a bank, so as soon as Alex would get a nickel, dime or quarter, he would jump out of Granddaddy’s lap and run get the egg and put the coins in it. Needless to say, thanks to Granddaddy’s generous spirit, it didn’t take long to fill up the egg with coins.
Then Granddaddy would take Alex to the Bank and exchange the coins for bills. And then? Yep, off to the store to buy a new toy. Was the boy spoiled? For sure!
As Alex grew older, so did Granddaddy and Grandma. But the love they shared never grew old. They loved unconditionally, and instilled worthy principles into Alex’s life that he never outgrew.
Granddaddy was a hard working man, doing manual labor all of his life. So he found it necessary to instill that work ethic into Alex’s young mind. He showed Alex how to load and unload his truck, he taught him how to drive his golf cart, and made sure Alex was always looking for something to do with his hands. Alex never forgot that, as Granddaddy said, “an idle mind is the devil’s workshop”, so being busy was a good thing.
Now Granddaddy was in heaven, Alex was grown and gone out on his own, but anytime Maggie saw Alex, he was quick to remind her how important his Granddaddy had always been and would always be to him.
This memory card slipped back into the dark recesses of Maggie’s mind as Mother began to move around again.
Mother looked at Maggie and pulled her close to her. Maggie leaned over to hear Mother whisper in her ear that soon she was going to heaven. Maggie tried to tell Mother that she loved her, but she put her hand over Maggie’s lips and told her to listen. Listen! Mother said quietly as she stared into Maggie’s eyes, and then glanced toward the ceiling.
Mother told Maggie that she saw what lies ahead---a light shining down from above, a beautiful gate and a river like glass, an angelic choir singing a familiar song, and above all that Mother said she heard a trumpet blow. She told Maggie to get ready, that there was a man in a long white robe walking toward her.
Mother again told Maggie that she saw what lies ahead—ETERNITY! And she said it surpassed anything she had ever seen in this life. She told Maggie that she saw Daddy, waving her to come to him.
With that said, Mother closed her eyes and took her last breath.
Maggie began to weep uncontrollably, but suddenly felt a hand on her shoulder. Whether it was reality, a figment of her imagination or a vision, Maggie saw a man in a long white robe standing beside her. He smiled and told her that life was about to take a turn for her.
As surely as the New Year came, what lies ahead would indeed be evident that with it came the reality—it was to be ‘her’ year!
D. S. Mullis