My mother’s name was Maria, but everyone called her Mara.
She was a shy, quiet, introverted woman who liked to stay in the background and never monopolize the limelight. But when she was in a room, the atmosphere changed.
My mother was a housewife and for many years I wanted to be different from her. My mother lived to make the world warm, comforting and enjoyable for her family and friends, while I found fulfillment in intellectual pursuits and valued those above all else.
My mother never questioned my (or my sister’s) motivations or tried to discourage us in any way. Our goals were her goals. We delighted her with our very existence, with the people we happened to be.
She loved my sister’s outgoing, mischievous personality, her determination and creativity, her beauty and her long, thick, wavy hair.
She loved my obsession with books, my need for solitude, my idealism and my short, thin hair.
She didn’t want to change us. She wanted to help us get to where we wanted to go.
Now, I recognize that my mother was an artist.
She created a home for us that was safe, warm, beautiful – a shelter from the threats of the world.
She was always doing something, but never busy. She could knit the most complicated patterns that she designed herself. She embroidered tablecloths and made lace for curtains and our school uniform collars.
Her curiosity was boundless.
She loved to read. Tolstoy, Dostoyevsky, Mark Twain, Charles Dickens.
She loved poetry.
She loved to cook and bake and created works of confection art. Her recipes were in her head.
From my childhood, I remember a midsummer day.
Outside it is bright and hot, but inside my mother’s kitchen the wooden shades are drawn and there is a cool and pleasant darkness.
My mother, sister and I sit at our kitchen table. Mother is drinking Turkish coffee from a tiny porcelain cup while my sister and I each sip from a glass of lemonade.
In the middle of the table, resting on a rose covered platter, there is a tall, layered cake with white lemon frosting .
Mother carefully cuts three pieces and places them on delicate plates. She positions a plate in front of each of us.
I take my fork and slowly, deliberately carve out a slice. I don’t take my eyes off that fluffy, creamy nugget as I carry it towards my face. I am being careful not to drop it and smudge my mother’s embroidered white tablecloth.
I take a bite.
The world is a delicious, glorious place.
Happy Mother’s Day!