by Abena Buahene
I grew up believing there was something magical about Sunday mornings.
Snuggled deep in my featherbed as frost from a Canadian winter framed the window, or laying on top of a crisp sheet and breathing the scent of Freesias that had hitched a ride on a Mediterranean breeze to my bedroom, Sunday mornings, no matter where in the world we lived, always had their own predictable and comforting rhythm.
I would lay there in that delicious state of being awake, but not quite ready to jump out of bed and begin the day. Unlike the other days of the week where mornings were about getting to school, work, or Saturday wash day, Sunday mornings were about my mother’s ritual.
Always I was quite happy to lay there and let ritual unfold.
The coffee grinder was the first sign that my mother was up and about. Now, you have to know this noise was reserved for only Sunday morning coffee or when my parents entertained. Instant coffee was the order of the day through the week, but my mother (as with her mother) was a great believer that coffee made from freshly-ground beans was Sunday worthy.
Soon the kettle whistle would blow and then, ever so gently, the smell of brewed coffee would waft from the kitchen, down the hallway, to my room. The first part of the ritual was complete.
I would next hear the sound of the mixer scrapping the sides of the brown plastic bowl, the one with a chip near the pouring spout. On Sundays, my mother would make something special for breakfast like blueberry-banana pancakes, raisin scones or zucchini muffins. If she was up especially very early, she’d bake Finnish cardamom bread to be served with her homemade strawberry jam. The sound of the oven door closing signalled that the second part of the ritual was done. By this time, my growling stomach was telling me it would soon be time to get up.
The opening and closing of cupboard doors, rattling of dishes and cutlery, combined with the smell of baking, completed the ritual. It would now only be a matter of minutes before my mother, sitting on the edge of my bed, would be tousling my hair and telling me it was “time to start the day”.
We all have certain sounds, scents, sights, or sayings that evoke memories. Some memories bring on a smile, laughter, or just that plain old feeling of happiness. Others make us tear-up, bring on grief, anger or frustration. This Mother’s Day will be the seventh one where my father, sister and I will place Freesias on my mother’s grave. We will each be lost for a few moments in our private thoughts of remembrance; her kindness to strangers; her loyalty to friends; her pride in her profession; her joy of picking raspberries and, above all, her utter devotion to family.
My mother’s Sunday morning ritual. Even now, in my dreams, I hear the coffee grinder, smell freshly-brewed coffee, and feel her hand on my head.
Sunday sounds and scents, a perfect reminder of my mother’s love; predictable and comforting.
Abena Buahene is a daughter, mother, sister, and street photographer who lives and loves in Toronto. She enjoys baking and still treats her father to many of her mother’s favourite recipes.