Mama is still in the jelly cabinet, in my sister’s basement, poured loosely into the cloisonne jar she bought on her honeymoon in San Francisco. Antiques both of them, the jelly cabinet was her grandmother’s, my great grandmother Zora Bell, who put up every berry jelly and jam she could find in the hills and mountains around Roanoke.

My sister irons and does laundry in her basement, and talks to Mama daily. The jelly cabinet, worn walnut panels and spindly legs, sits patiently, always upright, and Mama rests inside.

It’s been over a year since Mama died, and the cousins have called and asked more than a few times when the memorial will be. My sister and I agree, we’ll have it before Mama turns 100. She was 97 when she died. We’ve got a little more time. I couldn’t tell you though if that cloisonne jar will ever give up all of Mama’s ashes.My sister has come to depend on her, talking to her, feeling her presence through the jelly cabinet in the cloisonne jar.

I talk to Mama too, feel her often, even though those solid remains live on Grove Avenue. Just yesterday I found a pair of her polyester pants hanging in the back of my closet and, as I folded them, and stacked them on the dresser, ready to be placed in the donation bin, I touched them and said, “Hi, Mama.” They are still there, and I still say Hi whenever I’me strolling by, and give them a little pat.

There is Mama in all the corners of my sister and me.

RelationshipsLee SowderComment