My favorite time of year! Love the cooler weather, sweatshirts, walks outside, the changing leaves, and PUMPKIN! I love it all. I have attempted to restrain myself from making too many pumpkin recipes each week but each week I add another one to the menu. My first pumpkin recipe was made the first week after Labor Day. I pulled out my mom's Pumpkin Bread with Walnuts Recipe and grabbed a bowl and began my autumn baking journey only this year it was so much more.
As I mixed the spices into the batter and the smells of the season wafted into the air I closed my eyes and I was young again standing in the kitchen with my mom, me crushing walnuts in a baggie as she stirred the batter. I could smell the bread baking before I ever put my batter into the bakery oven. Funny how memories can have a smell.
This year, on a Sunday morning on March 10 my mom, suffering from dementia for the past 9 years, passed away in her sleep. She was finally given a reprieve from the horrible disease that had taken hold of her for so many years. As the disease slowly took her body and mind it took with it so many of my own memories of her before dementia. I was so afraid I would never get the "before" memories to return but little by little they are reappearing and the more recent memories are slowly fading. Every time a memory of her, when she was whole, appears in my mind I grab them, hold onto them, savor them and smile. Thank you mom for filling me back up slowly but surely with the good stuff.
So I begin my first autumn without my mom. They say the "firsts" are the hardest and it seems to be true. What I'm learning is she is still just a memory away and if I give her a moment and I slow down, close my eyes and remember - she is standing in her kitchen, making my world smell wonderful and cheering me on.