I went to Mexico in January to stay with my father while my brother and his family were away. Some things are different, but many things in the house are still the same since Mom died. The kitchen was her domain and the drawers and cupboards are mostly unchanged. My teapot still sits on top of the fridge and pots, utensils and containers are in their rightful places. Her handwritten inspirational sayings remain attached to the fridge door with magnets.
Grandma Devins took a trip to Scotland in the late 1960s or early 1970s. She brought back a spurtle which is a wooden stirrer for making creamy porridge. Porridge was a served every morning in our home except for Saturdays when we had Shreddies. On Sundays, raisins were added to the gruel. Mom used the spurtle for years and the wood finally cracked. One of the last things she asked me to bring her from Canada before she died was another spurtle. I never found one and the old cracked one is still in the kitchen. Each morning I made porridge for Dad and myself and stirred the grains to perfect creaminess with the old kitchen tool…and thought of Mom. I almost brought it home, but left it where it belonged.
The kitchen is still the heart of the home. I squeezed orange juice while Mom’s old dog Inge, who is now 11 years old, slept in the corner. Her great-grandson who was born a couple of weeks after her death, played hide and seek at the kitchen counter. Family photos remain on top of the grand piano and I saw my mother in my face. It upsets my father to speak much about her, but he continues in routines they set together and "sees" her often.
I watched the Vermillion Flycatcher outside the kitchen window in the mornings and admired the vermillion sunset over the mountains in the evening. The swallows returned to their nest outside the door and hummingbirds hovered around the flowers in the garden as they did when she was here.
Today marks four years since she left. I made porridge for breakfast and reminisced with some family members who called. Dad is not well and seems to decline step-wise at this time of year. Here are some verses from Psalm 90 that I love.
Lord, you have been our dwelling place
throughout all generations.
Before the mountains were born
or you brought forth the whole world,
from everlasting to everlasting you are God.
You turn people back to dust,
saying, “Return to dust, you mortals.”
A thousand years in your sight
are like a day that has just gone by,
or like a watch in the night.
Yet you sweep people away in the sleep of death—
they are like the new grass of the morning:
In the morning it springs up new,
but by evening it is dry and withered.
Our days may come to seventy years,
or eighty, if our strength endures;
yet the best of them are but trouble and sorrow,
for they quickly pass, and we fly away.
Teach us to number our days,
that we may gain a heart of wisdom.
Satisfy us in the morning with your unfailing love,
that we may sing for joy and be glad all our days.
Make us glad for as many days as you have afflicted us,
for as many years as we have seen trouble.
May your deeds be shown to your servants,
your splendour to their children.
May the favour of the Lord our God rest on us;
establish the work of our hands for us—
yes, establish the work of our hands.