Through the Years

Through the Years

From A 6th Bowl of Chicken Soup for the Soul

Through the Years

My mother, Hazel, sits peeling potatoes. Dressed in Mama’s movie star coat with the real fur collar, high heels, and beautiful red velvet hat, I shuffle elegantly into the kitchen and gleefully yell, “Look Mommy, I’m little Hazel!” Mama looks up and smiles with tears in her eyes. I am completely aware of how incredibly cute I am being. I am four years old, and Mama is my friend.

“Oh, Mom, it’s so pretty! I love it! Thank you, thank you, thank you,” I cry as I turn and rustle in my new party dress. My fingers touch the soft, peach satin, and I look up to see Mom smiling at me. I am nine years old, and, sometimes, Mom is still my fairy godmother.

“I’ll be glad when I go to college next year and don’t have to live here any more,” I scream at my mother. “If you keep on acting this way,” she says in frustration, “I’ll be glad too.” Hurt and shocked by this revelation, I storm out of the room, trying to hold back my tears. I am seventeen years old, and, too often Mother is my adversary.

“I did it! I did it! I got an A from Professor King,” I shriek. I leap to my feet, waving my report card in the warm kitchen air. Mom tells me she’s proud of me, and we dance around the kitchen in a wild victory jig. I am twenty-one years old, and Mom is my biggest cheerleader.

I am barely able to make out “Flight 405 to Great Falls is now ready for boarding” over the airport intercom. After all those times when it was me leaving and my mother was crying, it’s now her turn to depart, and I am the one left crying. I look at Mama and do something I haven’t done since I was four years old; I grab her hand and say “Don’t leave.” She touches my cheek and says, “But honey, I’ve got my ticket.” Hugging her close to me, I say, “The only way I’ll let you go is if you promise to come back for Christmas.” Dabbing at her own tears, she says, “Oh yes, I’ll be back.” I am thirty-seven years old, and Mama is my friend. This time, it is forever.

Nancy Richard-Guilford

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