Mother had been saying for weeks that she and Winzona had made easy and wonderful fudge one year and she wanted some fudge.
“Ok.” She probably shouldn’t push herself that hard and besides, it had dairy in it which meant I shouldn’t eat it, so I’d just as soon she didn’t make it. I love fudge and having it in the house would be torture. When she put the extra needed ingredients on the grocery list and I got them, hoping she’d forget.
As I concentrated at the computer, I slowly became aware that through the door behind me Mother was moving around in the kitchen. And it was more than just putting her dirty breakfast dishes in the sink. She was getting pans, pulling things out of the cupboards and the refrigerator.
“What’cha doing?” I asked, without turning around or moving from the computer.
“Making fudge.” There was no talking her out of it now. I should have ordered that gluten and dairy free fudge I found online last week but I kept hoping we’d get the box of homemade goodies that Holly, my nephew Andrew’s wife, said she was sending.
It was probably at least thirty-five minutes later that I left the computer to see how Mother was doing with this “easy” recipe. It was true there weren’t many steps or many ingredients but her sighs of fatigue over expended energy had finally penetrated my concentration.
“It’s the stirring over low heat that takes the longest time.” She was standing at the stove stirring and looked like she could fold at any moment. It may have been leaning on the spoon as she stirred that kept her upright.
The fudge looked thick and rich and wonderful. “Do you want me to stir for you?”
“No. I think it’s ready.” She turned off the burner, reached for the greased Pyrex dish and began to pour the hot fudge into the dish.
She was at the sink running water into the mixing bowl and pan when I came back through the kitchen on my way out the back door. The fudge looked luscious as it cooled in the Pyrex dish.
“I have to go sit down before I fall down.” She turned off the water and reached for her cane.
I got back from the post office and headed to the dining room with the stack of mail. The house had a wonderful chocolate aroma. Mother was in her normal spot at the table, wrapped in a gray sweater with her new brown and teal electric heated lap robe over her lap and legs. She was sound asleep, ink pen in hand, the crossword puzzle she had been working on the table before her, the TV turned to a cooking show with the sound muted, the radio on the sideboard behind her playing classical music. She looked all of eighty-five, half folded over like that, her hair graying more all the time.
She woke with the sound and movement of the mail being dumped on the table.
“That stirring was hard work. It wore me out.” She said as she straightened some in her chair. “Oh, that kills my neck when I fall asleep like that.”
“Look what Holly sent us. Fudge! And some gluten free goodies!”
Mother sorted the mail into piles and started opening Christmas cards. “I wanted to make fudge. So I did.”
“Good for you.” There was no point in telling her now that it was too hard on her. “I’m sure it will be delicious.” My resolve had been slipping since the very first aroma of the cooking fudge and with this box of Christmas goodies the last of any resolve faded away. Christmas goodie binge, here I come. I would pay for it, I knew, but at the moment, I didn’t care.
Ten days later, we had consumed all of her fudge, and I had consumed most of Holly’s chocolate and peanut butter fudge, the gluten free chocolate covered pretzels and some of the cookies she’d sent. The last remaining pieces we boxed up and sent along with a Christmas food basket to a needy family. My body fared better than expected at first on all those goodies but the sugar and chocolate stimulant withdrawal had begun and I was beginning to feel its effects.
Mother, meanwhile, had spent ten days exhausted and house bound, her arm aching from all the stirring. She missed church and spent some of everyday sleeping in the recliner with her feet elevated until she finally began to feel like herself once again.
“Making that fudge did me in.” She said
“Me too, Mother, me too.”