Some of us may have a candy that as soon as it dissolves on our adult tongue can teleport us to a time in our childhood. Maybe it takes us back to a shared memory with a friend or siblings or a quiet moment savoring a piece of that candy with a grandparent. Let it go down in my children’s history that their candy is and will be lollipops from my Dad, their Appi. My Dad will hand these out with the same authority as their daily vitamin.
The source of my candy use to come from my Mom’s purse. A little hard candy with so much powerful artificial flavor that somehow redefined the actual flavor of the fruit it was mimicking. Well now, the taste of this candy has the power to broadcast my entire 1980s before me.
This workhorse of a purse, the purse that my Mom would drop on the kitchen table or on her bedroom dresser after working the night shift as a registered nurse, held the candy we desired. And as soon as her hospital shift was over her shift at home would then begin; she would greet us all, then tap-in with my Dad who was all suited up to work a 9-5 at a downtown bank, all ready to head out to bring home his share of the bacon. And like two ships passing in the night this was their/our lifestyle, for many years. And for the love of her children, my Mom with tired eyes and powered by a heart of a lioness would land in the kitchen to start the morning routine for her hungry brood. My sister and I were strategically never latch key kids.
My Mom’s purse carried probably the only candy in the house. See my parents, being new immigrants, their knowledge base of American candy and sweets were very limited. And being a young family in a new country, American sweets and certain indulgences were not a part of the family budget or radar of importance. So we ate what they ate for desserts, Ethakka appams, a banana fritter made with sweet ripe plantains and slightly spiced with cumin and also a very popular Kerala dessert, Payasam, a sweet custard made with coconut milk, mung bean, and spiced with cardamom and cumin, etc… Don’t get me wrong, we NEVER felt that we had less than, NEVER. Although the only short coming to all this is I blame my slight lactose intolerance to the fact that we never had ice cream in our house 😉
So the American in my sister and I took hold and we quickly sniffed out the contents of my Mom’s purse. This candy was a highly sought after commodity and the ration was small. So quickly we caught onto the economics and it turned into a “first come first serve” race or sometimes a “knock-out drag-out” kind of moment 🙂 The CANDY I am speaking of, was my Mom’s small stash of Jolly Ranchers.
These Jolly Ranchers were probably from a bowl at the hospital nurses’ station for all the nurses to catch a quick burst of energy during the night shift. My Mom would grab a couple during her shift and then keep a couple in her purse. I think my Mom knew about our ferret-like behavior and would continuously stock her purse with these delightful brick shaped treats. Absconding the Jolly Ranchers, my favorite being watermelon, was what we did as a kid. Just another item on our daily kid’s to-do list. It’s one of those innocent games parents and their kids play, never letting each other know we’re onto each other.
I miss her sweet mothering so much.
So the sweetness of a watermelon Jolly Rancher takes me back, a sensory that guides me back to my dear Mom…a transient freedom from my painful loss.
Happy Mother’s Day, Mummy.
light & love