It was immediately after lunch. We were told to quietly clean off our desks. We glanced around the room with confused looks on our faces. It appeared as if we were preparing for something important. We were all a little nervous thinking perhaps we were having a pop quiz or, worse yet, a test for which we had all forgotten to study.
@MA BodyRR:Our teacher passed around a special sheet of paper and a set of brightly colored markers. She gave us instructions for a creative project. I was relieved. That was not the case with everyone. You could tell by their faces that some of the kids would have rather taken a test than create anything.
We were to draw and color anything we wanted to on that special paper to create a unique gift for our mothers. Our completed drawings would then be sent off to a company that would transform our creation into a decorative plate. It would be made of plastic but it would still be a “one of a kind.”
As I picked up the yellow marker to begin my childhood masterpiece, I wondered what I could draw that my mother would love. Wanting to use every single one of the markers, I decided to do a bowl with all kinds of fruit. Bananas, grapes, apples and oranges slowly came to life on the paper in front of me. After I was satisfied with my fruit design, I decided it needed something else. Across the bottom of the paper with a turquoise marker, I carefully printed the words “I Love You, Mother!” and then, in my best penmanship, signed my name.
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I couldn’t wait for the plates to arrive. Weeks passed and when I closed my eyes I could just see my fruit bowl colorfully adorning the plastic plate I was to give to my wonderful mother. They finally came and I loved mine. It was exactly as I had envisioned. Some of the other children in my class who would have rather taken a test were not as pleased. Oh well, we can’t all be good at the same things.
That plastic plate became one of the many handcrafted gifts I would give to my mother over the years. When she passed away and we sorted through her things, I tried to keep as many of my former gifts as possible. I thought if I kept them, I would always have her. In them were creative memories that were cleverly captured in time just for me.
Every time I see one of the gifts, I always remember Mother’s face the moment I gave it to her.
A gigantic smile would always come across her beautiful face followed by a tight hug that sometimes almost literally took my breath away. I was indeed lucky to be so loved.
Last Sunday, we celebrated mothers. It was a day planned to honor just them. My children came from Atlanta for the weekend to be with their mother and we had a wonderful time together. We worked in the yard, enjoyed the sun and cooked and cooked and cooked.
Sunday afternoon, my wife wanted to drive over to our old neighborhood.
We piled in the car for a short road trip to visit the places where my wife and I were raised. We drove on the same streets where we used to ride our bikes and then learned to drive. We visited our old homes, schools, grocery stores, dentist office and church. Each place evoked a whole slew of memories that we then relayed to our children.
My wife and I barely got a word in edgewise with each other as we drove from place to place. I’m quite sure our kids had heard these stories many times before, but they humored us and graciously allowed us to relive our pasts.
As we slowed down in front of the house where I spent most of my growing up years, my mind immediately went on a high-speed journey through time.
Moments passed, followed by days, finally ending in decades. It’s funny the kind of things you remember when you are confronted with something from your past.
Most all of my memories at that house were good ones. In fact, seeing the house made me actually feel warm inside.
It was the structure in which I had so many good times. It was the place where my parents “raised me right.” There was no doubt that I was surrounded by love! The only thing missing was my parents.
As we drove back to our present home, my mind continued on its childhood path down memory lane. When we entered our kitchen to prepare to cook our Mother’s Day supper, guess what popped up in my mind?
Yes, there in vivid color was the plastic plate adorned with fruit I had designed many years ago for the woman to whom I was so richly blessed to be given.
Guess what popped up next? That’s right, the beautiful beaming smile on my mother’s face when I gave it to her. The only thing that was missing was her hug, but even without it, for a split second in my kitchen, my breath was once again taken away.
MORE WITH MARK
@MA BodyRR:Check out Mark’s Web site at www.markballard.com for current projects, recipes and other fun stuff for spring.
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Mark Allen Ballard’s column runs each week in The Telegraph. Send your questions to P.O. Box 4232, Macon, GA, fax them to (478)474-4390, or call (478) 757-6877.