Living on Snuggles
Mamaís snuggles could comfort the strongest tummy gurgle. The year I was six, maize porridge, pancakes and cabbage soup were on the menu every day. Breakfast, lunch and supper were as predictable as Old Faithful.
The best snuggles happened down by the creek. As our bare feet splashed in the cool running water the sun spilled out the whole paint tray on the canvas of clouds above. Old man Murphyís cows added their voices to the crickets, bull frogs, cicadas and loons. It was like a new concert every night under the best of light shows.
The magic of life at dusk only added to the warmth of mamaís snuggles. It pulled my heart like a magnet to stay and ignore the sounds inside. Mama said I could live on wonder and some days I knew I almost had to.
Papa disappeared that year and Mama said God needed him to help out in heaven. The towering rows of corn still waived that summer and I lost myself most days in the enchantment of adventures in a world that stretched on and on. One day I was a hunter on safari in the wildest of Africa hunting dangerous game. On another day I was a knight rescuing a desperate princess from some fierce beast.
Mama would sit by that creek as I told of my heroic ventures and she would snuggle and dream with me until we just had to go inside for cabbage soup. I never knew until many years later that mama had nearly died having my baby brother. We would visit his graveside some days and talk of how Papa was looking after Jonathan until we could all be together again as a family.
We would take different ways home each day. Sometimes through the waist high meadow grasses shimmering silver in the rising moon. Sometimes through the overgrown cow paths where Bluebell, Bessy and Ginger used to amble home for milking. Sometimes through the section of corn patch which Farmer Hanson and his boys had harvested for us when Papa had to go.
Mama sewed so many patches on my overalls in those early years that it seemed I was more patches than pants. I got to start school a year after everyone else just because mama needed a man to help out around the place. Mama taught me my numbers and letters over cabbage soup so I didnít feel behind.
I felt sorry for the school kids. They laughed at me for my britches and I figured they didnít have any mama willing to show her love in sewing. They mocked me for not having a daddy and I figured they didnít have any Papa already waiting with Jesus to look after them. They mocked me for my pancakes every day and I figured they must have too many brothers and sisters to get what they needed. And most of all I figured they just didnít have a mama like mine to give them their snuggles when they needed them.
Mama had a favorite Maple tree where she would sit to read the Bible and pray. It was like there was a special peace around that sanctuary of hers. I figured God was sitting right down there with her wondering what she was reading and thinking. I bet he took their discussions right back to Papa to let him know that we were still doing fine.
When I turned seven mama decided we needed to get back to church. Church people had dropped by to help out around the farm but mostly they left us alone. That year life changed. On Church Day folks would slip bags and bundles of things to mama after the singing and talking was over. There was some great surprises and maize soup, pancakes and cabbage soup had extras to help us celebrate how good God was to his own. I figured Papa must be praying extra hard that we would have something to help with the gurgles.
When I was eight mama started singing again. She would stand out by the grove of oak trees and lift up her arms to the heavens and sing out like only she could sing. Growing up I never thought we were just making ends meet. I thought we were swallowing life whole and celebrating every day like it was the best gift there was.
Mamaís snuggles helped me through those days. I still miss those snuggles.
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