chocolate is a verb

colors, flavors, whims and other growing things

turning point

DAK asparagus and artichokes
When she was 70, my mother had surgery that kept her in the hospital for a while and on a low-roughage diet for even longer. Days before her 71st birthday, she sent me a note on the back of this drawing. “Oh How I love those asparagus and artichokes!” it says, her arms full of vegetables, her belly showing a neat line of stitches.

Dorothy did love asparagus — green or white, hot or cold, slathered in brown butter or dipped in creamy sauce. At dinner with my grandmother in some swank restaurant, she didn’t hesitate to pick up the green spears with her fingers and she joked that we should put asparagus on her grave in lieu of flowers. (When the time came, there was no grave — her ashes, like my father’s, scattered at sea. His choice, I’ve always believed, which she followed, perhaps longing for asparagus into eternity.)

Torn from her sketchbook, the note celebrated her post-operative return to driving and to her volunteer job as a peer counselor. “It also was a bit scary,” she wrote, “Would I be as nice as everyone thought I was in absentia?”

Dorothy’s surgery was a turning point for me as well. Since I had left home, all my return visits had been constrained by my mother’s needs and aggressive scheduling of my time. But during those couple of weeks, I had her car and many hours of freedom between my visits to the hospital and meals with my father. Suddenly Los Angeles changed from the quite-limited place I knew as a child to a vibrant city where, for the first time, I could imagine being an adult. Having left home at 17, I could also see that if I was to have an adult relationship with my parents, this would be the time. After nine years in Seattle, I was ready for a change and later that year I wrapped things up and moved to L.A. to begin the next, as it turned out, long chapter in my life.

Even now, back in the Northwest for a decade, Dorothy gone for longer than that, it’s my mother I think of when I see the profusion of asparagus and artichokes growing in local gardens, when I pick up a bright green spear with my fingers and take that first crisp bite.


3 responses to “turning point

  1. awritersalchemy June 26, 2015 at 1:30 pm

    What an absolutely gorgeous post–Thank you for sharing it!

  2. jik June 26, 2015 at 3:24 pm

    Thank you so much, Bethany!!

  3. Pat Hunt June 27, 2015 at 8:02 am

    Loved this piece – as I do all your writings about your family! xo P

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