1. Julio Iglesias
He was her favorite artist. She owned several of his records on vinyl and would sing along as she cooked and cleaned. I did too.
Her favorite fruit, which she always ate by cutting in half, sifting sugar over then scooping out the flesh with a spoon.
Not only did she drive a yellow Toyota, but my favorite picture is of her in a yellow dress with white polka dots. It was taken in a Canadian church when she stood as godmother to my younger cousin, Lloyd.
4. My aunts
I see my mother in her three sisters all the time. When they’re all together, I can’t help but to wonder, to wish, that she were right there with them
She cooked them at least once a week as part of dinner. The rice, meat, loose corn kernels or other vegetables all turned a purplish-red color after coming into contact with the boiled beet slices. The same was true of my fingertips and nails if I scooped it onto my fork with my bare hands instead of using my knife.
6. My Big Toe
My big toe is just like hers. Notoriously bursting through socks, tights, and panty hose. I sometimes go up a whole half size or give up all together on wearing certain pairs of shoes because it presses right up against the front of the shoe. The fashion isn’t worth the discomfort.
7. Claire Huxtable
My mother was just as beautiful, strict, loving, stylish, and caring as Claire Huxtable. I saw my mother every week on TV, even if I didn’t see her at home.
8. Baking Soda
To this day, I occasionally brush my teeth with baking soda to get that extra clean and fresh feeling and to naturally whiten my pearly whites.
She used to wash, and cut pears into fourths as mid-afternoon snacks. I do the same at work.
The whole kitchen would reek of Clorox bleach as she soaked, washed, boiled and soaked again our family’s white clothing. They always looked new. I don’t have the patience for this practice so I avoid buying whites.
My mother instilled in me my love of books and reading when she purchased a set of Dr. Seuss books that arrived in the mail. Classmates were envious of me as I would always have the highest stack of books from the Scholastic book order form
After bathing me, my mother rubbed me down from head to toe with lotion, making sure that every inch of my dark brown skin was properly moisturized, whether I was heading out to school or church or just going to bed. It’s a habit I maintain, and I could open my own store with the amount of lotions, creams, oils, butters, and any other type of skin moisturizer imaginable.
13. Costume jewelry
Fashion is cyclical. While I do own genuine gold and silver pieces, I tend to gravitate towards colorful, plastic or wooden earrings, bracelets and necklaces that I can easily picture my mother wearing in the faded pictures of her my albums.
14. Bread soup
I hated and cringed when I saw my aunts practically force-feeding it to my younger cousins when they were kids, like my mother used to do me.
I remember the sound of the V8 cans being popped open, and the immediate smell of the mostly tomato juice creeping into my nostrils as I gulped, because I didn’t dare sip the bitter and salty drink.
We drank tea in fancy porcelain tea cups with matching saucers, even if were just sitting at the kitchen table and drinking tea to combat the symptoms of an oncoming or full-blown cold.
My mother loved her chandelier that hung in the family dining room for over thirty years. The day she picked it up she gently placed it in the front seat, strapping it in with a seat belt, while she held the back door open for me to jump in and sit wherever I pleased in the backseat of her yellow Toyota.
I didn’t know why she was always in out of them, but it seems like we were always there.
I attended my first funeral at the age of eight. Hers. Since then, every funeral reminds me of her and hers.
There were so many at the funeral home and at the grave site when we returned the day after the burial.
As her eyes yellowed, skin sagged on her bones and hair disappeared from her scalp, I had no idea cancer was ravaging her body. Years later I figured out because of the many books I read, and TV and movies I watched. It was confirmed when I finally worked the nerve to ask a family member what had claimed my mother’s life.
I remind myself of my mother. Her first born, her only daughter. Some say I look like her. I don’t see it, but I miss her and think of her daily, not just on her birthday. Not just today.