Alfreda T. Beeler, my Mother, died on July 16, 1991. She was suffering from Alzheimer’s, a broken hip, collapsed lung, and a cracked rib. I thought she was gone. I’d see her when I too passed on.
We moved her and Dad to our home and made our living room into a hospital room with the help of Hospice. Several times she’d tell Vennie to look at the light. The beautiful light. There was no special light that we could see. The first time, Mother was amazed. The other times it was more enjoying an expected beauty.
Vennie would reassure her. Tell her it was OK to go toward the light if she wanted. Vennie would ask what she saw.
Once she answered, “a man, a woman, and a little child, waiting there in the light”. She either didn’t know or couldn’t say who they were. Maybe they were her Mother and Father with John Javid, the son we lost at just after birth. The inevitable happened and she passed peacefully.
Over the next few months, Mother made her presence known. I kept finding the aspirin bottle top loose. I’m the only one who uses the aspirin. Everybody else uses Tylenol, Advil, and other stuff. I close the safety cap all the way. Mother hated safety caps. She’d leave them open. The top just sitting on the bottle. Was she trying to make her presence known as we let the dead sleep within our hearts?
Vennie kept finding the front door open. It should have been closed and locked. No one was opening it. Mother?
Vennie saw what appeared to be a movement. A person in the hall several times. It must have been a shadow. No one was there. Mother?
These things kept happening over the next six or so months after her passing. We’ve even joked about it. Was she still here since she had died in our living room?
One week , Vennie was in Muleshoe, Texas visiting her family. Muleshoe is 18 miles from Earth. Earth, Texas that is. Anyway, I was Doing the domestic thing at home with our son and daughter, Elaine.
I decided to cook a roast. There were two in the freezer. About 2 inches thick 6 inches by 10 inches. Frozen like rocks. Why not cook both of them.
Use the corning ware. Easier to clean. Won’t fit. I used the good old Ginsu knife to saw them in half. Took over an hour. Instead of deciding there had to be a better way, I got stubborn. Wasn’t about to stop sawing, except to thaw my hands. Success.
All four pieces went into the Corning ware like four slices of toast. Tight squeeze. Hard as a rock. By this time it’s 10:00 at night. Set the oven on 250 degrees. Don’t want to burn them. Half cup of water in the bottom of the pan to keep them moist. Little salt, pepper, Mrs. Dash, and Cayenne for good luck.
10:30 and the roasts are in. Opps, I’ve got to get up tomorrow at 5:50. Workday, you know. Can’t stop now. We’ll see how they look at bedtime.
Come midnight and I can’t stand it. I’ve got to get to bed. What’ll I do. Too hot to put in refrigerator. Can’t leave out all night. Too tired to care. Almost jokingly I called on Mother.
“Well Mother, I need your help. Let’s cook this together, cause I’ve got to go to bed. Don’t let it be too bad by morning.”
I went to bed. 12:15 AM.
1:00 AM. I’m wide awake. I know I have to check on the roast. My “toast slices” are fully thawed. Dark brown for the top two inches. Bloody red from there on down. Not much room around the meat. Juice less then two inches from the top. This won’t work. Get out a flat Corning ware casserole with top. Everything fits. Add half inch of the juice. Cover and put in oven. Back into bed without a thought. No idea what time it is.
3:00 AM. Fully awake again. Know I have to check on the roast. Looks perfect. Put on counter. Two pot holders to protect the counter top. Slice the two thickest in the middle. Nice, brown, tender, and juicy. Put top back on to keep the cat out. Back to bed.
5:00 AM. Wide awake again. Got to check on the roast. Cool enough to put in the refrigerator on two holders. Don’t want to crack the class shelf. Back to bed.
5:50 AM. Alarm goes off. I’m as groggy as usual. Stagger to the bathroom.
6:00AM. While sitting on the pot, I suddenly remember the roast. Then I remember the cooking events. Finish on the pot, wash my hands, then check on the roast. Perfect. I looked up with a smile. WE did it. Suddenly the warmest feeling came over me. You know that feeling you get as a kid when your Mama gives you a great big hug? Mother and I had actually cooked the roast together. Just like the time we baked cookies.
The Mexican Wedding Cookies had been one of the few times Mother and I cooked together. It was on a Saturday morning. It was my first cooking lesson. She tried to teach me how to cook. My sister Lucia would refuse to eat anything if I helped with the cooking of that meal. I learned how to cook in Boy Scouts and when I was a bachelor after college.
Now I know that Mother’s with me. So’s Dad. And other released souls with whom I’ve bonded. I know Dad will always be in the background. Silently supporting. Mother will be in the front. She was always so outspoken. Sometimes to a fault. I assume there are no more secrets between Mother and Dad about me. Maybe there never were. Each just played their perceived roles.