I have this picture in my mind of my mother, and it's the one I see now as she sleeps in this hospital bed, worn out from doing nothing but lying here.
I'm four or five at the time, and although she normally works, it's one of the rare times she's at home during the day. After breakfast, she cleans off the kitchen table, puts the dishes in the sink and smiles at me. "We're going to have some fun today," she promises. "We're going to bake."
These words excite me, naturally. To any child, what was better than fresh-baked goodies? "Yay, mama!" I cheer, and watch as she puts on her apron and gathers her ingredients on the counter.
"Bread dough first," she tells me, and heats a little bit of water to mix with the yeast. Even though it's not a treat, I love watching her make bread dough. Maybe it was because my mother was always so rigid that seeing her with her hands in a ball of dough with flour up to her elbows was so against type I found it humorous.
There was a schedule to bread dough that I never got. First you make it, then you put it away, then you do something else to it, then put it away. It all got very confusing to me. But when it's finally ready to be worked, Mama pulls it into a long roll, her tantalizing fingers running along the length of it, evening it out. Usually, she puts it into loaf pans, and she does now with half of it.
But she sets the other half aside and smiles at me. "And now something for you," she tells me. Once again she pulls the dough into a long roll, but this time those fingers make it longer and thinner and then pats it down until it's about an inch wide and half an inch thick. I can't imagine what she's going to do with it now.
Then I see her get down the brown sugar, the cinnamon and the raisins. She sprinkles them over the dough, then rolls it up into a series of little pinwheels. She puts them into the oven next to the bread and we make sugar cookie dough while we wait.
The smell from the oven makes me hungry all over again, even though we just finished breakfast. The bread is done first, but that's not the important part. When the rolls come out, I can't wait to taste them, but Mama says "Wait, we need to glaze them." She makes a thin frosting from confectioner's sugar, vanilla and condensed milk and drizzles it over them.
They're still warm, and she puts one on a small plate for me and gives me a fork. The roll is as delicious as I anticipated it would be. The smell of the cinnamon rolls has woken my father, who works nights, and my mother gives him one with a cup of coffee. The three of us sit in that fragrant kitchen, enjoying the fruits of her labor. It is one of the happiest days I can remember from my childhood.
I look over to the hospital bed where she's softly snoring now. I turn off the television and leave the room, down to the cafeteria. It's late and there isn't any real food, but they have what I want. I pour myself a cup of coffee and take a cinnamon roll to the cashier's station.
Props to the CHPercolator List for the prompt