For a brief moment, we had orange countertops. Some of my friends’ mothers wouldn’t allow you to sit in or on the kitchen cupboards, but my mom did. Maybe it was because I told her I liked to read in that sea of orange — like I was balanced on a giant spoon in a bowl of sherbet. Or maybe it was because she was never really all that precious about things. Or maybe she knew we wouldn’t have them that long. They didn’t have time to go out of style before we had to sell the house.
It wasn’t that long ago that she wondered aloud, perhaps she should have cooked more. Taught me things in the kitchen. Oh, but you did, I said. Cooking, no. But the things I learned! To imagine! To dream! The freedom to sail orange waters! Nothing could have fed me more! And perhaps just as important, the lesson in letting it all go, with grace, and with hope. That’s how she lived.
There was a cartoon at the time. H.R. Pufnstuf. I loved it. Every Saturday morning. In one episode they sang a song, “Oranges Poranges.” It was ridiculous. But it always made me laugh. Everything was packed and in the moving truck, but for the weight of having to leave — that we carried with us. I was standing by the back door. I watched my mom take one more look around. I didn’t want to cry. She looked at me. Brushed her hand across the countertops, then gave it one final tap, as if to cue the song. “Oranges Poranges,” she sang at the top of her voice, “Oranges Poranges, who says, there ain’t no rhyme for oranges!” We smiled and walked out the door one last time. She taught me everything.