I appreciate these challenges. Writing Challenge #2, click HERE to participate!
Every morning around this time of the year, for about 4 weeks, I
would wake up to the most beautiful smell: Pumpkin Marshmallow. The
sweet-smelling aroma swiftly engulfed the cramped cabin where my family and I
stayed during the Holidays. The scent was not overbearing, it provided just the
right amount of warmth needed for those chilly November mornings! The sound of
pots and pans raddling and clanking in the kitchen was just a little reminder
that Thanksgiving was around the corner.
Mother loved Thanksgiving; it was the only time of the year that
all the family came to town and enjoyed each other’s company. The holiday visit
usually lasted about 2 weeks; once it ended everyone quickly returned to their
busy, eventful lives in the big city! Everyone tried to stay in touch the first
few weeks after Thanksgiving, but generally, that didn’t last! It would go back
to just being Mother, Dad, and the twins after the Holidays. The twins are Lily
and Kyle; my family adopted them when they were about 6 months old. They are
actually blood cousins, but according to documentation and family bond, they
are my younger siblings! In total Mother and Father shared 6 children: the
Twins, Mark, Cassie, Paula, and Myself!
I usually came to town a few days early to help with the
Thanksgiving preparations. The week leading up to Thanksgiving we were required
to get everything in the house impeccable, as Mother and Father prepped the
food. Mother wanted floors and walls scrubbed spotless, Fall decorations
flowing throughout the house and the fireplace equips to burn chips of wood all
week long. The house remained very busy and smelled delightful, between scented
candles and home cooked greatness. As each day passed everyone’s excitement
grew greater. The anticipation became almost unbearable the day before
Thanksgiving Eve. This was also the day for the final touches on the menu and
last minute cleaning sprees!
On the day before Thanksgiving, Family would start to arrive at
all times of the day. Some would bring dishes of dessert and others would bring
the liquid inspiration, not that anyone needed it. The men would gather in the
den to watch sports while trying to smoke Cuban Cigars on the hush; Father
would open windows hoping to air out the smell, but it never worked! Aunt Francis
would bring Christmas sweaters that she was able to weave together on her own.
She was very good at what she did, but those sweaters were not always
appealing. Every year she would request a picture of everyone in their sweater,
and it eventually became a Christmas card. Then there was Cousin Billy and
Cousin Frank, they are brothers, and I believe my 2nd or 3rd cousins; they
always seemed to have a “new date” or “new friend” every
Thanksgiving. It’s like those two were allergic to settling down.
Each year it seemed like our family grew; everyone was branching
out and starting families within our already large Family. The cabin was always
so full of laughter and love these days. We all would sit and talk for hours
about past memories and share outrageously embarrassing stories. Mother would
always find a way to sneak in her photo albums; she mainly went for the same
one every year. This photo album was outlined in the shiniest silver you would
have ever seen & if it were tilted in the correct position the reflection
of light would allow the pages to shimmer. It was a stunning album. The album
contained baby photos of my siblings and me. Every year we created new
traditions and even revisited old ones. Every year we argued, laughed till we
cried and cried until we laughed.
It has been a long while since I experienced a Thanksgiving so
full of joy. Once Father became sick the holidays became dull, and the laughter
was no longer present.
He fought his battle as long as he could, but after 2 years of
fighting, it was understandable that he was tired. Mother took his passing very
hard; she began to give up on life herself; it seemed. The Twins moved out and
off to college right before Fathers passing, so it was just Mother- alone. I
asked Mother to stay with me because she didn’t need to be alone, but she felt
closer to him at the cabin.
Days would go by before she returned any of my calls. Each time I
talked to her, she sounded more lost than before. I wanted to help her, but I
didn’t know if I could. She lost her life partner, the man she loved since the
8th grade. How could I possibly provide her with the right words and support to
get her through this?
Each day grew harder; instead of healing, I felt my Mother was
withering away. Eventually, she refused to leave the cabin at all. She refused
to eat and take care of herself in any way. So I finally decided to move back
with her. This decision shocked many of my friends; they didn’t understand why
my older siblings did not volunteer to take care of our Mother. I tried to
explain that everyone had children and families their own; to pick up
everything and move thousands of miles would be unfair and unrealistic for
them. However, it was just me. I lived alone. I dropped out of college shortly
after my father was diagnosed. All I did
was work a dead-end job and attend night clubs!
I felt as if my life was going nowhere fast and I needed to be with my
Mother! I needed to add purpose and substance to my life again.
I did not realize until I packed up and moved with my Mother that
I was also still in pain. I had not completely come to terms with my Father
departing this earth when he did. I ignored what I was feeling for a long time.
That was no longer an option when I moved back to the cabin.
My mother had not left the cabin for many months; she felt closer
to Father there, and I could understand that. We shared so many good memories
in that place.
My 1st night back was uneasy; I heard my Fathers voice bouncing
off the walls! I could feel his presence. I knew this was only my emotions and
entirely in my head, but it felt so real! The smell of his cologne lingered
through the cabin that night. I thought Mother may have sprayed it, so I walked
down the hallway to her room. She was in a deep sleep. It looked as if the sleeping
pills I gave her did the trick. As I looked around the room, I didn’t see any
of Father’s belongings. It seemed like the room they shared and been wiped
clean that he was ever there. I did not understand how Mother could get rid of
all his things but still sulk in grief for his passing.
I grabbed for the handle on the door to exit my Mothers room, as I
tried twisting the handle the door seemed jammed. I tried my best to wiggle it
open as quietly as possible; I didn’t want to wake Mother. As I tried pulling
the door handle for the 4th time I felt a cold chill down my spine; I spun
around quickly and caught a glimpse of this dull grayish light. I shut my eyes
rapidly; I kept telling myself I was tired and just needed to get some sleep.
My gut was saying something different! I turned back to the jammed door and
heard an unclear whisper. I could not make out what was said. I thought it was
my mother so I called out to her, but there was no reply. I assumed she was
talking in her sleep. As I redirect my attention
back to the door, I heard that faint whisper again, but this time I can make
out what was said.
“You cannot leave me! We are a family! I will never let you go!”
At that moment I understood why Mother would never leave this
He would not let her!
Michelle A. 11/23/15