I’ve mentioned before how enamored I’ve grown with the house dresses my mama used to call dusters. She loved those things like damn and whoa and after she died we found dozens of them in her room. She loved nothing better than to receive them as gifts for any and all occasions. Now I know why she liked them so much; they’re cool, lightweight and most importantly, THEY HAVE POCKETS! Big, roomy pockets. Let me tell you, when you’re doing your last once over, picking up kid’s stuff before bed, big pockets are a lifesaver.
Anyway, I picked up a couple today, and mentioned to the cashier how much my mama loved them. She got teary eyed and said every time someone buys one she thinks about her mama too. We talked for several minutes until both of us got too choked up to continue. It’s been a while since this happened. The Christmas after she died I collapsed on the floor sobbing in Kmart, blubbering over their Christmas display. My mama loved Christmas; decorating with so many lights our house could be mistaken for an alternate airport runway.
It’s been fourteen years y’all and it seems like just yesterday I could pick up the phone and call her anytime I wanted. It still hurts. I feel like a motherless child, because I am one.
This is the pound cake my mama used to make. Only she added one teaspoon of mace (the outer shell of a nutmeg), you could just use nutmeg. It adds a certain mmmmm to the cake.
My mama worked very hard all her life. She was an amazing cook, and her cakes and pies would make you weep. Her cornbread was so good people would come to the restaurant where she worked and order a slice of cornbread with a cup of coffee as a treat. Most of the time my mama smelled of the things she worked with. Good wholesome food, vanilla, cinnamon and sometimes coffee. A devout gardener, sometimes she smelled of earth and plants. Fruit and delicious things she’d grown. A pragmatic woman, she seldom indulged herself in much, but she loved three things; red lipstick, beautiful lingerie and the fragrance Tabu. She had slips that were so elegant they would be worn as evening wear today. My all time favorite was chocolate brown and it had four inches of the most amazing lace on the border. We buried her in a fabulous yellow suit, with that gorgeous slip underneath. But more than anything I will always associate my mama with Tabu; the fragrance and the lipstick.
I remember the violin shaped bottle on her dresser, and every now and then she’d take a long soaking bath, slip into one of her beautiful pieces of lingerie and spritz on some Tabu. I guess these days we’d call it “self-care,” but I think sometimes she just wanted to remind herself that she was a beautiful woman. Not just mama. Not just the chief cook and bottle washer. But a woman in her own right.
I read an article about the fragrance today. The designer was told to create a fragrance for a prostitute or puta, hence the name Tabu. That made me laugh out loud. Mama was always such a lady, but I’d like to think she would get a similar kick out of the history of her favorite fragrance.
Today I ordered a bottle of Tabu. I love a red lipstick too. My favorite is Revlon Cherries in the Snow. I doubt if I’ll ever find any lingerie as beautiful as hers, and I must admit I feel incredibly womanly in a pair of delicious cotton pjs. Still I’ll buy one sinfully beautiful gown in her honor. For remembrance. This bond of womanhood that we have, and that will never be broken. I understand so many things now that were dark and mysterious when I was a child. And the memory. Tabu.
Last night I was going through my iPad and arranging my ebooks. Yes, I was procrastinating, I was supposed to be writing. Anyway, I got to thinking about how much my mama would’ve enjoyed ebooks. I would have set her up a lovely Kindle account and showed her how to download books. And yes, she would’ve bankrupted me because my mama could easily read a book a day! I can see her taking her Kindle to church and showing all her friends, and telling them about her daughter the author. She would be so proud. I, of course, would point out that she probably shouldn’t be showing my “dirty” books to her church friends. And she’d be like, “Christians have sex. Where do you think little Christians come from?”
Oh Mama, I miss you so much.
My mama was an absolutely phenomenal cook, but baking was her passion. She worked nearly all her life as a domestic or a restaurant cook. Her favorite cookbook came out in 1971, and it was her go-to for many, many years. Her pound cake recipe, which is so rich because it’s got eight eggs in it, came from that book. As did her caramel cake and my favorite praline cake. She gave me the book before she died, but, of course, after forty years of hard use, it was in less than pristine condition. It’s a Southern Living cookbook, but it was long out of their backlist. Well, I found it on Amazon the other day. I immediately ordered two copies; one for me and one for my niece. Now I can keep the one my mama gave me in my treasure box. I want to have it framed. And I’ll use this one. Flipping through the pages was like a trip down Memory Lane. So many late nights with me greasing and flouring pans for her. Perfect cakes all golden and delicious. Caramel cake has always been my favorite, but I’ve never made one. I think I will make my first one for Luke’s birthday next week.