My mother was an organized woman. Gabby wrote lists of what she was going to do every day with her special Papermate pen no one else was to use. If it went missing, she yelled out across the house, “Who took my pen?”
She placed her furniture just so, at specific angles. Her living room was arranged with comfort and organization in mind. When you stood from the couch, you were to plump the down pillows your body had sunk into. No indentions allowed. When she left the room, my three siblings and I liked to test her. We might move a chair a quarter of an inch. She’d return, sigh and push the chair back to its proper position.
The only mess Gabby tolerated was anything to do with chocolate, and the gooier, the better. She disdained candies, but inhaled chocolate mousse, chocolate sin, soft chocolate chip cookies, brownies and cake frosting. She had her own method for eating cupcakes, especially Humphrey’s cupcakes we picked up on the way to the beach on the Vineyard. We always hoped there were enough black on whites for all of us. Sometimes we had to make do with chocolate bottoms, horrors.
At the beach, my mother picked first. She swiftly and surgically separated the bottom half (or three quarters) from the top and threw it into the wind for the seagulls to fight over and devour. She then popped the remaining mini version of the same cupcake into her mouth in one bite.
I rarely eat a whole cupcake anymore. Bottoms are just excuses for frosting.
- When Morgan Baker isn't figuring out what parts of her are like her mother and what parts aren't, she teaches at Emerson College. Her essays have appeared in Talking Writing, Brain Child, The New York Times Magazine, The Boston Globe, The Martha's Vineyard Times, and others. She lives in Cambridge with her husband and two dogs and is the mother of two grown daughters.