Today, in the year 1949 at a hospital in Kansas City, my grandparents’ first child was born- my mother. I’ve never been to Kansas, but all of the family pictures I’ve seen depict a flat and treeless backdrop with gravel roads. It’s the kind of backdrop that one would imagine to be various shades of brown if the photos were in color. Of course, I can’t forget the close-up photos in my grandmother’s photo albums of cars dented beyond drivability from chunks of hail “the size of golf balls”. I imagine it was a dry and dusty day, the kind of late summer day the natives cherished before the golf ball hail thundered down and unleashed its anger on shingles, windows and cars. When I think of Kansas, I think of when my plane from Seattle landed on the airfield strip in Salt Lake City and how I looked out to find a tumble weed rolling alongside my window from the force of the plane. Looking through the plane window, I thought of the stories my mother told me of how she and her sister pretended tumble weeds were horses and how they would corral them in the garage. My grandfather would come home after a strenuous day of work and open the door to have tumble weeds pour out on to him. After suffering from a mammoth allergy attack, he would storm into the house to find his two golden haired daughters playing quietly with their horse marbles and pencil corral. His heart would melt with pride and love and he would yet again forget to punish them as harshly as he had intended. Because lack of experience necessitated it, I transformed Utah into my family’s Kansas by flattening the landscape and adding wheat fields where Mormons flourished. I hated Utah because it was too dry and lacked any sort of natural green, yet I think I would love Kansas if only because a part of me came from it and will always belong there.

Today, in the year 1981, my mother probably sat in her favorite arm chair and sung to me in a screeching voice only love made melodic. Her cocker spaniel mix, Suzi, a mild mannered tan dog about the age of ten, probably sat at the feet of her chair, gazing longingly at her former throne I then occupied. I would have been exactly three months and two days old. I don’t remember what life was like then, but as I think back to this day twenty-one years ago, I slowly paint the picture from memories. My mother’s chair was a small brown recliner with a very soft and fuzzy fabric. The fabric was so soft that it rivals the fleece blankets of today. Over time, the fuzz wore off and was replaced by bare patches of crisscrossing brown threads. But back then, the chair was much newer and would have lacked any bare patches worn down from years of hands resting against the arms and years of a young child climbing every which way on it. Her chair would have faced the large living room window of our cozy one-story home, a window that gazed upon the tree laden cul-de-sac and its peaceful neighborhood. In a few months time, the window would show a postcard image of a quaint snow-dappled neighborhood in a small town that made cows and grapes its livelihood. In front of my mother’s window to the world would have been a humble color TV with a round dial used to change channels. The TV would have been perched atop of a skinny metal stand and would have either been showing “Days of Our Lives” or the blackened reflection of my mother rocking me to sleep. I couldn’t have qualified as a birthday present for my mother, as I was born three months earlier, but she would have disregarded this fact and would have told my tiny ears over and over again that I was the best birthday present, Christmas present, mother’s day present, and general everyday present that she had and would ever have.

Today, in the year 2003, I wonder what my mother would be doing. I would probably have taken the day off from work and taken her- and maybe my father- somewhere special. We might have gone to Mt. Rainier, assuming she would have used this week for vacation. Or perhaps we would have taken our family dogs camping in the Olympic Peninsula. These were the only places our small and fragile family went for vacation, but there are places I will always cherish and someday drag my children (if I have any) to. If she hadn’t used her vacation time for this week, then I would have baked her a cake of her choosing, which would have been her favorite lemon bundt cake spiked with extra lemon juice and drizzled with lemon glaze. We would have then had a low-key family celebration where my father and I would not argue and where we would take my dearest mother out to the restaurant of her choosing. We would then end the day with presents, cake and ice cream. She would have a small slice of cake topped with vanilla ice cream. My father and I would have large slices topped with chocolate.

But, what really happened today was that I woke up early in the morning and lazed in bed for an extra hour thinking that I wanted to pay tribute to my mother, but not knowing how. The rest of the day followed very typically, until I finally returned home. When I opened up my “miscellaneous file”, intending to drop in a receipt of payment for Tyler’s housing application, my memorial service pamphlet from my mother’s funeral fell out with a battered recipe for her favorite Lemon Cheescake Pie. I’m not sure how this recipe made its way into my possession, as my father had insisted on keeping her recipe stash to himself and not letting me so much as see them, but its presence brought tears to my eyes. It probably means nothing. It probably doesn’t mean what most would tell me once they saw the tears streaming down my cheeks- that she’s watching over me. Yet, I still find it a fitting tribute to make that Lemon Cheescake Pie tonight. So, today in the year 2003, I am going to fill my spacious and soon-to-be former apartment with the smell of sweetened condensed lemon and share one of my mother’s beloved recipes with Tyler and any friends who drop by. Perhaps I will even offer some cheesecake pie to the landlord I hate so much.


  1. Hey, just browsing your site. I reallly like the design, especially the flower/name thing. You did a really good job making the font look awesome.
    I really like this post. I also lost my mother. When did your mother die? I get the impression that you had some time to heal.

  2. A very touching post. I'm sure your mother would be glad to know that you are paying her the best tribute — remembering her fondly — regardless of whether you are able to honor her in other ways. I think about this sort of thing sometimes, what my girls would do if I were to die, and I hope that they would take good care of themselves and remember me fondly. Thanks for sharing.
    The site design is beautiful, by the way.