pen point rita 01KENTUCKY - I stood looking bleary-eyed out the kitchen window early Saturday morning while having my first cup of coffee. The initial long sip was a test of the coffee, cream and sugar blend. As my palate sampled the mixture, I made a slurping noise. A noise, I might add, that I've always found annoying.

It reminded me of my childhood when Mama would make a similar sound when having her Saturday morning coffee. I would roll my eyes and say, “Mama, you don't have to make that noise when you drink your coffee.”

She would answer by taking another slurp.

Saturday as I stood unseeing out the window, my mind was years away. I was thinking about things that irritated me as a child, that I now laugh about; and, how I'd followed the family tradition by annoying my own children both accidentally and on purpose.

Getting on each others' nerves other while still loving each other is just part of being a family.

“I'm the mama — gotta love me,” I'd say.

The thought made me smile.

While Mama never said those words, her smile as she slurped said the same. She knew that I, as her daughter, would love her long after that cup of coffee was drained.

We lost Mama in April 2011 from complications of breaking a hip. She was a month shy of 87 years old.

It's true what they say about your loved ones always being with you as long as you remember them. When I reminiscence about her, it is a very present pain in my heart. The lump in my throat, the tears down my cheeks, are very much in the here and now. Yes, she's with me.

I've lost several close family members, but there's something about mamas that tugs deep in our hearts.

As I sat down to write this, I wondered, “How much would I pay to spend one hour with Mama?”

I tried to appraise the time I've carelessly wasted that I could have spent with her. What value could I place on an hour of time with her now?

I only know I'd go scraping and begging to get the money to spend an hour with Mama if I could.

But we are only given a portion of time. We can't buy more. It is simply … not for sale.

On this side of heaven, I have only her memories to treasure.

And, while it's true that I'll always have her in my heart, how precious it would be to spend just an hour with Mama . . . even if we were only slurping coffee together.

Rita Dukes Smith
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