My mother was a Christian, an Anglican when I was small and she insisted on us going to church and Sunday school, then she went back to being a Baptist, when I was in my teenage years, as she was reared.
My mother loved Easter and I remember this season fondly. My mother always changed the curtains and doilies throughout the house to white and purple, even our bedspreads were white and purple. I can still see the living-room back then now, white curtains, with purple tulips patterned, fluttering by the open window in the afternoon breeze, billows and folds like waves dancing over the chairs. The center table, side tables, bookcase top and on top of the piano, were draped in purple and white doilies my mother had crocheted, starched and pressed to stiffness. I loved going into my mother’s room because even in the middle of the day, her white Chenille bedspread with purple flowers, and her dresser with purple and white crochet doilies lured. Everything had its place, and it made her room a haven I would enter quietly, run my hand over her Chenille bedspread, wrap the curtain around my slender body and sniff the air laced with Kanaga, the perfume she wore frequently. Sometimes, I would go into her closet, pull the door shut, crouch on the floor and sniff her clothes.
My mother celebrated Easter by baking her own bun that flavored our house, making it smell like a bakery, raisins, currents, maraschino cherries, flour, spices and molasses. On Good Friday, we usually began the day with salt-fish fritters, hardo bread and hot cocoa, which was grated, boiled, spiced with nutmeg, allspice, brown sugar and milk thatcame from my mother’s village, Flamstead, in St James.For lunch we had bun and cheese, and then we were off to church to suffer for three hours on the cross like Jesus allegedly did. I hated Good Friday service, and barely survived except in anticipation of the reward of food after the service. I always argued that it was unfair that I had to suffer three hours of dirge like singing and the preachers droning on since Jesus already died for me, and besides I wasn’t aware I had committed any sins. My mother told me to zip it and off we went, anticipating dinner – Escovitch fish, bammy, fried plantain, all of which were prepared the evening before, because my mother’s rule was no major cooking should take place on Good Friday, a holy day. The irony of course is that it is called Good Friday, the day of Jesus’ crucifixion. “So why is it “good” anyway?” I almost earned a box on the mouth for such abomination.
Well perhaps it is a coincidence, but since my mother’s death, Good Friday was the first day I felt as if I were back to my normal self. I awoke and it was as if the sky opened and the sun shone like it hadn’t before. I walked five miles, I marveled at the golden Poui blossoms all over the campus and Mona area, I began to make plans for the new books I had to write. I felt, again, ready for all life has to offer. And then on Easter Sunday, the resurrection, I woke at dawn, went to see the amazing “Movement and Music” performance by the NDTC at the Little Theatre where I also danced, (in another life it seemed), and when I came home, Mommy was strongly on my mind. So I searched and found the bed-spread she crocheted for me about twenty years ago, and that I had not used in perhaps seven years, and put it on my bed, then I went through the closet and found some doilies that she had crocheted for me. Whenever she came to visit me in California and saw my tables and dresser bare, she would crochet me different color doilies, which I sometimes used as basket mats for food when I entertained. But this Easter Sunday after her death I put a doily on the desk of hers that I inherited, poured white rum as libation for the ancestors, of which my mother is now a member, placed my favorite photo of her taken when she was twenty-one, and two glasses of water, bun and cheese so she will not be thirsty or hungry on her journey and white and purple bougainvillea in a vase for she loved flowers – an altar in her tribute. Then I placed two other doilies on what used to be my bare side and dining tables, in her honor.
Although I did not bake any bun, I did buy bun and cheese and put curtains on the windows…sorry they are not white or purple…Happy Easter Mommy.
Your loving daughter, Opi (like you affectionately called me).
* I haven’t written anything for my mother since her death (February 23, 2018), but I know I will write a lot about her, as I have in the past, and will continue way into the future as she was and remains like formidable heroine.