We never had enough money or sophistication to own a candy thermometer when I was growing up. When my mother made fudge, one of her specialties, and needed to figure out if it had reached the “soft ball” stage, she would drop a small spoonful of the boiling candy mixture into ice water. If she could collect it into a “soft ball” with her fingers, it was done. She used a similar technique with fruit preserves.
I made blackberry preserves tonight. And I am missing my mother.
Yes, I saw her today. And the day before that. And I will see her tomorrow. But the mother I see every day isn’t the mother I want tonight. I want the mother who could have told me if the blackberry preserves were ready to put in the jars. The one who would have wanted to know what I want for Christmas. And made sure that we had fried apple pies on Christmas morning, because they were my favorite. The one who worried about me and my well-being.
Now, I worry about her well-being. And that is OK with me. On most days, every day really, I am grateful for the opportunity to give her joy. We decorated the tree in her room today. She loved the snowman theme. After we finished, I started to leave but then ran back to her room to get something I had forgotten. She was sitting on her bed staring at the tree. She said, “Kim Reeder, you are back. Don’t bother me now, I am looking at my tree.”
Most days that is enough. But sometimes I just miss my mother.