Memoir Writing Contest: Deviled Egg Diaries by Kathe Campbell

by Matilda Butler on November 3, 2011

catnav-scrapmoir-active-3Post #130 – Women’s Memoirs, ScrapMoir – Matilda Butler and Kendra Bonnett

Congratulations to Our Next Memoir Writing Contest Winner

Last week, we published the first of three Honorable Mentions in our May Memoir Writing Contest that featured the topic of mothers. This week, we extend our congratulations to Kathe Campbell for her special story in the MOTHERS AND MOTHERING category.

Congratulations Kathe on your award-winning memoir vignette.

  Deviled Egg Diaries

  By Kathe Campbell

Though America was plunged in the Great Depression of the early 30’s, a flair for humor, and her perpetual humming of lovely tunes defined my mother. She loved telling friends and family how home-made bottles of aged, homemade prohibition beer blew to kingdom come from their basement confines just as the preacher came calling. Neither Mom nor Dad were spring chickens, and the pastor wanted to offer good wishes for the impending adoption of their first child — me. Being a part of their fun-loving and idyllic union left lasting impressions of how all marriages should be, for their pattern shaped my future. 
 

My parents, Maudie and George, in 1940

My parents, Maudie and George, in 1940

Mother was no bigger than a minute. A born cook, gardener and hostess, men gushed with envious stares as dad whirled his dark-haired Irish beauty around the dance floor. Every morning the prettiest automated appliance in our kitchen was mom. She floated down the stairs perfectly turned out, always with colorful earrings to match perky house dresses. She played the piano and organ at our church, lived for lunch and weekly bridge with the girls, and sang contralto with the St. Cecilias. But mostly, she was a stay-at-home peach of a mom, for full-time motherhood was her career, and her payment was pure love.   
 
As an only adopted child, my passions were my best friend, my bicycle, roller skates, and St. Alban’s Girl Scout Camp. At age eight, and what seemed a long and boring summer, August and St. Alban’s finally arrived. Mom packed a family photo and my stationery kit, should I feel moved to write home, for she felt it important that something familiar greet me morning and evening.  Eager to make new friends and become adept in all the things offered each day, I settled in, but within two days I was making a teary and panicky rescue call.
 
I know now this must have been hard for my parents. After all, it wasn’t kindergarten with mom waving a tearful good-bye as we parted for the first time. She knew that if given time, I would adjust just fine, a sort of early version of tough love for a homesick kid. And yes, I adjusted for the better as my days overflowed with countless camp activities. I was so worn out after evening campfires laced with legends and Kumbayas, I dropped into my sleeping bag a happy camper with few thoughts of home. 
 
I had fanaticized about camaraderie with the “Gipissies” as recounted in my first letter home, and now I was a member in good standing of the most sought-after shelter at camp. I would be showing off my Gypsy Tribe woodsy living quarters on parent’s Sunday that summer of 1939, the highlight of my first Brownie Scout year. Unhappily the folks never showed up for afternoon dinner and evening vespers, a rarity for their usual perfect timing. Distressed and puzzled how anything short of mayhem or murder could explain their holdup, I marked time by laying out table settings and condiments.
 
After seventy years, I’m still not sure if I was antsy about my parents being late, or if it was the fate of mom’s scrumptious and slightly zippy, parsley-topped deviled eggs. She had crossed her heart promising to bring a platter for each table in the dining hall, and now suppertime was drawing near.
 
The hilarious deviled egg drama was passed down through a maze of relatives and friends over the years. It seems mom might have snagged the prongs of her engagement ring on something, and the stone was gone – clean gone, and she was beside herself. Her full carat blue-white diamond had taken precedence over my Sunday do, and I had seen nothing amusing about the drama, her ring, or my eggs.
 
The oft-told tale goes like this. Dad had stopped our Pontiac on the shoulder of the road to set his auditor’s calculated plan in motion. They would not open the doors to search sills until they checked their clothes and surroundings carefully.  Engrossed in the task at hand, and totally indifferent to weekend traffic darting past, the two frantically went to work. 
 
Door pockets, clothes pockets, mom’s purse, and the ice-packed trays of deviled eggs were meticulously inspected. Mom even removed her trendy multi-pocketed sailor middy and bell-bottom trousers, but nothing glittery turned up in folds or pockets. Entirely in her skivvies in front of God and the four-lane Sea/Tac Highway, she hoped the stone had rolled behind or beneath the seats. 
 
Serious searching commenced as two fortyish venerable and popular members of the city began feeling, patting and groping in a frenzy. Mom slid over onto dad’s lap while he laid the back of her seat forward. Then they both moved into the passenger seat – but nothing. Off came her perky sailor hat while they twisted and turned topsy-turvy. Under the front seat they explored, hanging precariously up-side-down searching floor mats. Passing motorists tooted salty honks as the pair moved into the back seat with a flashlight, but it was no use.   
 
The State Trooper’s droll grin at the driver’s window must have embodied a thousand depraved thoughts amid my folk’s cavorting and romping. My half-dressed distinguished father rolled down the window to explain their dilemma while mother clutched her outfit under her chin. Excuses sounding faintly plausible, expressionless and officious eyes only rolled in disbelief, lest an outbreak of uncontrolled howls destined to amuse the entire constabulary. The officer backed away and politely asked them to park off the highway before opening doors and dressing. Panic, degradation, and warming deviled eggs were covering the day’s calamity well.
 
Still pondering the whereabouts of her precious stone, mom pictured me patrolling the entrance to St. Alban’s wondering if I felt like a neglected orphan wallowing in a sea of tears. Her face and hair were in shambles as she searched for her lipstick and compact. One earring had unwound and escaped, and she sighed wearily while peering in the visor mirror to form new spit curls. In spite of it all, my family arrived with the deviled eggs just in time for supper, nearly an hour late, full of smiles and hugs as though they had just stepped out of a bandbox.
 
I forgot all about mom’s cherished sparkler until Christmas that year when she opened a velvet box containing a new ring with an even larger stone. She sort of cried as she kissed dad, and I still wondered what the big deal was over a dumb ol’ ring anyhow? 
 
Today I know darn well what the big deal was, for mom is having the time of her life in the great beyond watching me enjoy a legacy that suits my fancy, but maybe not my ranching lifestyle. She is still the endless sweet humming in my heart, full of comfort, happiness, and being.  I may sometimes forget the words but I’ll always remember the tune about a peach of a mom, for despite a slight earthly setback, her deviled eggs were the best.

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Kathe lives her Montana mountain dream with her mammoth donkeys, a Keeshond, and a few kitties.  She is a prolific writer on Alzheimer’s, and her stories are found on many ezines.   She has contributed twice to the Cup of Comfort series, Christmas anthologies, People Who Make a Difference, RX for Writers, devotionals, and medical journals.  Email her at: kathe (at) wildblue (dot) net.
  

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