by Cher Finver
I’d get a faint whiff of stale cigarettes and Estee Lauder’s Beautiful as she hurried by me in her tattered floor-length bathrobe. She’d run around our modest kitchen, gathering eggs and cinnamon, cussing under her breathe when a piece of bread would start burning or our nearly expired milk was running low. Mom’s dark hair matched the circles under her eyes most weekend mornings, be it late weekend morning as I rarely saw her before eleven.
I grew up to be a morning person because I had to be the morning person. I’d turn on Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles and attend to my brother, two years my junior. We knew to play quietly in our room, hoping the first parental voice we heard was that of our mother. That meant fewer egg shells to walk on than if our stepdad awoke first. His mood was based on cocaine, alcohol, and if he had a job at the time. At least I could say Mom worked steadily while also battling the aforementioned vices.
A few Sunday mornings a year, Mom would crawl out of bed at an acceptable breakfast time and make French toast. I grew up to realize it was nothing fancy, just the basics, but I can still picture her in the kitchen as my brother and I were waiting anxiously at the table, our stomachs growling for something other than generic cereal and our hearts hungry for our mother’s attention. The warm syrup and butter always served as an after-thought, felt like a hug.
I ended up trying to fill the void left by my mother and others of significance with food. Learning to eat right, exercise, and many years of therapy have led me to the good place I am in now, emotionally and physically. I gave up hope long ago that my mother will ever apologize for past mistakes and this does not excuse other behaviors. But, as a mom myself for nineteen years now, I know some days all you can do is muster up a simple meal. Mom, know that I’ll always remember your French toast and the love I felt when you made it for me. Any memory I have of you just trying is one I can look back on now with some degree of appreciation.
Bio: Cher Finver is a writer and the author of But You Look So Good and Other Lies. She resides in Las Vegas, Nevada with her husband, daughter, and their three dogs.
Thank you Cher, your story reminds us to find the love, wrap it in understanding, gratitude and forgiveness, hold it close, and write it into our life stories and grow our hearts.