Momma - A Will Starr Short Story

Momma



Her rapid breathing was finally slowing down, and Charlotte Hanford, RN, knew that her mother was in the final, slow process of dying. She rose and peered out the window, where the cold February storm was still spitting a combination of snow and rain. Both she and her mother had always loved cold, wet weather, so it was appropriate that she end her days on such a night.

It had started when her mother went shopping one morning last spring and failed to return for hours. When she finally did come home, she brushed off Charlotte’s questions, claiming that she’d just lost track of time. A week later, her mother confessed in tears that she had suddenly been unable to remember how to get home or Charlotte’s phone number. Only after a kindly clerk in a 7-11 market asked to look at the address on her driver’s license and gave her directions was she able to get back on the right road.

“You’ve had a TIA, a Transient Ischemic Attack…a ministroke.”

Doctor Miller peered over her reading glasses at Mrs. Hanford, who turned and looked to Charlotte for confirmation. Charlotte nodded.

“That’s why you couldn’t remember how to get home, Mom. It wasn’t just your age. It’s a warning. We’ll have to be very careful from here on out.”

Charlotte was an only child, conceived almost immediately after her parents married, so they eagerly looked forward to a large family. But her mother mysteriously never conceived again, despite the tests that indicated both parents were fertile. As the years passed, Charlotte finally gave up on the idea of having siblings. It was simply not meant to be. But the silver lining was her parent’s total devotion to their only offspring, and so Charlotte drew ever closer to her beloved parents.

Her father was an aeronautical engineer and met her mother when he asked to congratulate the chef on a superb dinner served to him and his business acquaintances. To his stunned amazement, the chef turned out to be a stunning young slip of a woman who sized him up and decided right then and there that the handsome young man gawking at her would soon be asking for her hand. She was right, and less than a year later, they were man and wife.

The wind was picking up and rattling the storm windows as Charlotte, ever the nurse, prepared to take her mother’s pulse. But the quiet, peaceful look on her face changed her mind. Why bother when the inevitable was well on the way? Let her pass in peace and in her own good time.

Charlotte’s father had a nice, safe job in an office, so it never occurred to her when he kissed her goodbye on a sunny July morning that she would never see him again. After an all-nighter, a drunk on his way home in the early morning ran a red light and slammed into her father’s car on the driver’s side, killing him instantly. The drunk was bruised, but otherwise uninjured. Charlotte was barely eleven, and for weeks, was unable to cope with the reality of losing one of the two people who mattered most in her young life.

Her mother put aside her own grief to console her daughter, but to no avail. Her grades plummeted, and she hid herself in her room for hours. Even her best friends from school were unable to cheer her up. Finally, her mother called her into the kitchen one evening and had her sit at the family table.

“Your father always insisted that we eat together, because he was a happy sort of man who loved life and also loved to eat. That’s how we met. Do you remember the story?”

Charlotte nodded silently.

“He would not want you to suffer because he is gone, He would want you to be happy and live your life as his beloved daughter. I think you know that deep in your heart. Am I right?”

Charlotte nodded again.

Her mother’s voice softened. “I will always be with you, my love. No matter what, I will always be with you. Do you believe me? Look at me.”

Charlotte raised her eyes to mother, and nodded through her tears. ‘Yes, Momma, I believe you.”

Her mother rose and went to the oven. A few moments later, she placed a small plate in front of her daughter, along with an icy cold glass of milk.

“These were your father’s favorite treats. They’re spicy molasses cookies, and whenever he was troubled by anything, he asked for a small plate of these, freshly baked, and an ice cold glass of milk. It never failed to cheer him up, so now, I am presenting my beloved daughter with her Daddy’s little recipe for happiness.”

There were still occasional episodes of sadness, but Charlotte’s long period of grieving ended with simple cookies and milk that night, baked and served warm, like a mother’s love.

Charlotte glanced at the clock. David would be somewhere over Kansas by now, winging his way home. He was a budding writer, and one of his efforts had caught the eye of a publisher in New York, who made him an astounding offer. So he went to New York to make the deal, but he dropped it all when he learned that Charlotte’s mom was in trouble, and caught the first red-eye available. Thankfully, the publisher understood and told him the offer was good for as long as it took. David was a good man, a good husband, and the man she would love forever. She wished he was here.

The temperature had dropped again, and the spotty rain turned to large flakes of softly falling snow. Outside the window, the thermometer read twenty five degrees, and the wind was picking up. David would not arrive until seven in the morning at the earliest, and then there was the three hour drive up the mountain to Flagstaff. She was on her own.

The large, old home was very warm. Her mother was easily chilled, so the thermostat was set at eighty-five degrees. Even so, her frail body was covered by the down quilt Charlotte’s grandmother had made for her all those years ago. Her breathing was now very slow and shallow. Her time was near.

She brought the oak rocker from her father’s study and placed it next to the bed. It gave a feeling of comfort to know she was seated in a chair her father loved while she watched her mother drift off into eternity. She picked up her mother’s frail hand and kissed it.

“I will always love you, Momma, “ she whispered.

He mother’s eyelids fluttered slightly, and Charlotte was wondering if her mother heard her, when her eyes opened, and looked around for a moment before settling on her daughter’s face. Her lips moved, but Charlotte could not make out what she was saying so she bent down and held her ear just inches away from her mother’s whisper.

“I will always be with you, my love. No matter what, I will always be with you. Do you believe me? Look at me.”

Her face was glowing, and a small smile shadowed across her lips briefly as Charlotte nodded through her tears.

‘Yes, Momma, I believe you.”

The small smile remained, as her mother closed her eyes. She took one more small breath, and then she was gone.

For over an hour, Charlotte sat and held her mother’s cool hand, weeping quietly. At last, she tucked it under the quilt, and dried her eyes. She was now alone.

She decided against calling the mortuary out on such a night. It could wait until morning. She did lower the thermostat to a cool sixty five degrees. The chill didn’t matter any more. Her mother was past discomfort.

The light was on in the kitchen, and it annoyed her that in her forgetfulness, she must have left it on. She rose and walked to the kitchen door where she stopped and stared. At last, she sat down at the small table, where her hand automatically reached out to the icy cold glass of milk and the small plate of freshly baked, spicy molasses cookies, still warm from the oven and a mother’s love.

More by this Author


101 comments

Genna East profile image

Genna East 3 years ago from Massachusetts, USA

Hi Will. It’s wonderful to see you publish one of your hallmark stories on the Hub. You have been missed. :-) This one is so beautiful, it brought tears to my eyes that I know we all share and can relate to. (And I love the name Charlotte – it was my mother's name and is now my granddaughter’s.) The loving and unique twist at the end is classic Starr. Thank you! Voted up ++ and shared.


Becky Katz profile image

Becky Katz 3 years ago from Hereford, AZ

I am with Genna on this. I am also very happy to see one of your awesome stories. This was a good one too.


Jackie Lynnley profile image

Jackie Lynnley 3 years ago from The Beautiful South

A story teller after my own heart. This will touch many I know. ^


dahoglund profile image

dahoglund 3 years ago from Wisconsin Rapids

You captured a picture of how one person relates to the death of someone very close. We all go through it at on time or another.

You asked me to keep followers informed about my fungal lung infection. I believe the fungus "ball" is shrinking but the medicine interacts with my diabetes medicine, so it's creating some problems in activities.

Thanks for your concern.


DreamerMeg profile image

DreamerMeg 3 years ago from Northern Ireland

Beautiful story.


Old Poolman profile image

Old Poolman 3 years ago from Rural Arizona

Gosh, a voice from my past with yet another great story. Glad you decided to share this one with us WillStarr.


SubRon7 profile image

SubRon7 3 years ago from eastern North Dakota

You nailed it again, Will, and thank you so much. We all need to read about, and be reminded of, the truest of love, and you do that, my friend.


WillStarr profile image

WillStarr 3 years ago from Phoenix, Arizona Author

Hi Genna,

This is a fictionalized account of real people.

Thank you!


WillStarr profile image

WillStarr 3 years ago from Phoenix, Arizona Author

Hi Becky!

Thank you so much!


WillStarr profile image

WillStarr 3 years ago from Phoenix, Arizona Author

Thank you, Jackie!


WillStarr profile image

WillStarr 3 years ago from Phoenix, Arizona Author

Glad to hear you're improving, Don.

Out here, they call it Valley fever.


WillStarr profile image

WillStarr 3 years ago from Phoenix, Arizona Author

Hi DreamerMeg!

Thanks for reading me.


WillStarr profile image

WillStarr 3 years ago from Phoenix, Arizona Author

Hey, Mike!

I owe you a phone call!


WillStarr profile image

WillStarr 3 years ago from Phoenix, Arizona Author

Thank you James!


Old Poolman profile image

Old Poolman 3 years ago from Rural Arizona

Call anytime WillStarr, I always enjoy chatting with you.

Mike


WillStarr profile image

WillStarr 3 years ago from Phoenix, Arizona Author

And I will, Mike!


drmiddlebrook profile image

drmiddlebrook 3 years ago from Texas, USA

Sad, but so real, WillStarr. I went through something similar with my own mother. I was blessed however, with many siblings. Good story.


diogenes profile image

diogenes 3 years ago from UK and Mexico

I have some smoke in my eyes, Will. My mother always put a Kit-Kat and a glass of milk by my bed when I was out on the town at weekends (etc). Your lovely story brought this back with a rush and the inevitable damp eyes.

Bob


Ghaelach 3 years ago

Morning Will.

You've heard it before, but it really is good to be reading another one of your stories. It doesn't matter if fiction or non-fiction you have a way of bringing them over to your followers. I tend to think that fiction is born of non-fiction, but spiced up to make it a bit unbelievable.

Well put together, and I wonder how often this has happened over the years.

Great to have you back Will. Take care and have a great week.

LOL Ghaelach


FitnezzJim profile image

FitnezzJim 3 years ago from Fredericksburg, Virginia

You have a gift, Will. We are fortunate that you are willing to share that gift with us.

Thank you for the story. As we have come to expect from you, it reached out to us, tweeked our emotions, pulled on our heartsrings, and left us with that feeling that only a master storyteller can bring out. It is good to see you back.


bravewarrior profile image

bravewarrior 3 years ago from Central Florida

What a beautiful story, Will! The cookies and glass of milk at the end are a nice touch. How did they get there and who baked the cookies?

I really enjoyed this and look forward to more of your short stories.


The Frog Prince profile image

The Frog Prince 3 years ago from Arlington, TX

You know how to spin a tale with the best of them Will.

TFP


WillStarr profile image

WillStarr 3 years ago from Phoenix, Arizona Author

Thank you, drmiddlebrook.

This is a fictionalized depiction of real people.


WillStarr profile image

WillStarr 3 years ago from Phoenix, Arizona Author

Hi Bob, and thank you. Is your Kit-Kat the same as ours?


WillStarr profile image

WillStarr 3 years ago from Phoenix, Arizona Author

Thank you so much, Ghaelach!


WillStarr profile image

WillStarr 3 years ago from Phoenix, Arizona Author

Thank you, Jim, for the always kind words.


WillStarr profile image

WillStarr 3 years ago from Phoenix, Arizona Author

Hi bravewarrior!

"The cookies and glass of milk at the end are a nice touch. How did they get there and who baked the cookies?"

Who indeed? That's the real question isn't it? ^_*


WillStarr profile image

WillStarr 3 years ago from Phoenix, Arizona Author

Thank you Jim!


CMerritt profile image

CMerritt 3 years ago from Pendleton, Indiana

Hi Will!

It is soooo nice to read one of your remarkable tales. This one, though it is not one of your Western Classics, it is STILL a classic that leaves a warm spot in my heart.

I miss your writtings, and this made my day.

Chris


WillStarr profile image

WillStarr 3 years ago from Phoenix, Arizona Author

Hi Chris!

Thank you, my old friend!


cat on a soapbox profile image

cat on a soapbox 3 years ago from Los Angeles

Good morning, Will. What a treat! It's good to see you here again. Hope all is well.

Cat :)


kirutaye profile image

kirutaye 3 years ago from London, UK

Good to be here reading your story again after a long time. As usual you've written a beautiful story and I love the twist at the end. Very pertinent in this season.

Cheers,

Kiru


btrbell profile image

btrbell 3 years ago from Mesa, AZ

Thgis story gave me goosebumps. It felt real. Thank you for sharing! Up++


resspenser profile image

resspenser 3 years ago from South Carolina

Great story Will, glad to see another one here. You've been missed!


BlossomSB profile image

BlossomSB 3 years ago from Victoria, Australia

A truly beautiful story.


Cardisa profile image

Cardisa 3 years ago from Jamaica

Hi Handsome, long time no see. That was beautiful, I could not help tearing up just a little. Love your stories as always.


PegCole17 profile image

PegCole17 3 years ago from Dallas, Texas

I can hardly see to write (type) through the tears. This one is so close to home that it's painful, yet so incredibly sweet. Thank you, Will. You've been missed. "Daddy’s little recipe for happiness" - such a sweet line.


G-Ma Johnson profile image

G-Ma Johnson 3 years ago from NW in the land of the Free

Miss you so much...very nice story and hits home for me...Mom passed away a bit over a year ago...but very calmly and I was there...God Bless You...:O) Hugs G-Ma


WillStarr profile image

WillStarr 3 years ago from Phoenix, Arizona Author

Thank you cat on a soapbox!

Much appreciated.


WillStarr profile image

WillStarr 3 years ago from Phoenix, Arizona Author

Thank you kirutaye!

Best wishes on your book.


WillStarr profile image

WillStarr 3 years ago from Phoenix, Arizona Author

Thank you btrbell!

Isn't our weather great?


WillStarr profile image

WillStarr 3 years ago from Phoenix, Arizona Author

Thank you, Ronnie!

Looking forward to another super cop story.


WillStarr profile image

WillStarr 3 years ago from Phoenix, Arizona Author

Hello to Cardisa, my awesome Jamaican beauty! Thanks for the sweet comment.


WillStarr profile image

WillStarr 3 years ago from Phoenix, Arizona Author

Thank you PegCole17,

As usual is with most of my stories, this one was based on real people and events.


WillStarr profile image

WillStarr 3 years ago from Phoenix, Arizona Author

Hi G-Ma Johnson, and please accept my condolences on the loss of your mother. My wife's mother spent her last years with us and passed away on this year's Good Friday.


mckbirdbks profile image

mckbirdbks 3 years ago from Emerald Wells, Just off the crossroads,Texas

Hey Will, I see you have not lost your knack for telling a tale. And you still pack the house when you arrive at the Hub. Good to see you.


WillStarr profile image

WillStarr 3 years ago from Phoenix, Arizona Author

Thank you Mike, and congratulations again on your second win in a row! Bravo!


wayne barrett profile image

wayne barrett 3 years ago from Clearwater Florida

The older we get, the more we can relate to a tale such as this for reasons I'm sure you can understand. The key to this is the memory. I posted a poem earlier today simply because I wanted to give respect to a family member that I never even knew. I think it's important to remember. I have a picture of my great great grandparents on my night stand that I have had for 20 years, and lo and behold, I just found out about a month ago that they knew and had personal relations with Frank and Jesse James. Lets just say, there will be a story coming about this info...maybe a novel if I have enough to work with. Anyway, I enjoyed the great story. and you sir are a great story teller!


Gypsy Rose Lee profile image

Gypsy Rose Lee 3 years ago from Riga, Latvia

Voted up and beautiful. A very touching and heartwarming story. Enjoyed.


drbj profile image

drbj 3 years ago from south Florida

Welcome back, Will, I've missed you and your well-written short stories. This one is no exception. Loved the tale and the ending. Thank you for the treat ... and I don't mean the cookies.


WillStarr profile image

WillStarr 3 years ago from Phoenix, Arizona Author

I'll be looking forward to reading about your great-great-grandparents, Wayne!


WillStarr profile image

WillStarr 3 years ago from Phoenix, Arizona Author

Thank you, Gypsy!


WillStarr profile image

WillStarr 3 years ago from Phoenix, Arizona Author

Thank you, drbj, and good to see you again!


Kimmie Thompson profile image

Kimmie Thompson 3 years ago

Hi Will I cant say welcome back as I have been gone for a very long time...haha but came back as a reader but still so slow in getting to many of our lovely friends. A wonderful story and would not expect any thing less. Always a blessing to read your work.

Take care,

Kimmie


David Warren profile image

David Warren 3 years ago from Nevada

Hi Will, hope all is well your way. As always, awesome writing. I've been wrapped up with other endeavors and haven't been here in a bit. This made for a perfect first read back here on HP. Do you know if Fred ,(ghost), is really gone from this site? Became quite concerned when I didn't see him or Pam as members.


WillStarr profile image

WillStarr 3 years ago from Phoenix, Arizona Author

Thank you Kimmie! Where can I find you these days? I've lost my notes.


WillStarr profile image

WillStarr 3 years ago from Phoenix, Arizona Author

Hi David,

Ghost can be found here, along with me and Old Poolman:

http://www.stevenfromholzsister.com/


Kimmie Thompson profile image

Kimmie Thompson 3 years ago

Hi Will..

My site is http://www.sunniedaysgracefulintentions.com/

Would love you to stop by sometime. Hope you are doing well. Of course on FB too..lol Take care my friend,

Kimmie


vocalcoach profile image

vocalcoach 3 years ago from Nashville Tn.

Hi Will - I so love this story. Charlotte had loving, caring parents and that alone is a blessing. I understand that she wanted siblings, however she realized that she alone would be the recipient of her parents love. The ending with the milk and 'warm' cookies leaves a surprising ending.

This is my favorite of all your stories. Thanks again for sharing your talent. ~ Hugs Audrey


suzettenaples profile image

suzettenaples 3 years ago from Taos, NM

What a beautiful story. Life makes full circle. I love the ending. Cookies and milk always make one feel better. Believe it or not I have been writing a story with the same idea in it cookies and milk. Although the cookies are not spicy molasses. This story flows so well and I like your writing style.


ubanichijioke profile image

ubanichijioke 3 years ago from Lagos

awwww such a touching story well told...

I found myself in this poor girl's world and felt every bit of her pain.

Death with its icy hands must come from the clan of bastards...

quite a wonderful story......


CraftytotheCore profile image

CraftytotheCore 3 years ago

You have amazing talent! I loved this story. You are a terrific writer!


WillStarr profile image

WillStarr 3 years ago from Phoenix, Arizona Author

Thank you, Kimmie!


WillStarr profile image

WillStarr 3 years ago from Phoenix, Arizona Author

Thank you, Audrey June!


WillStarr profile image

WillStarr 3 years ago from Phoenix, Arizona Author

Thank you, Suzette!

You are a superb new writer, so I notified my followers.


WillStarr profile image

WillStarr 3 years ago from Phoenix, Arizona Author

Thank you, ubanichijioke.

I like your colorful depiction of death!


WillStarr profile image

WillStarr 3 years ago from Phoenix, Arizona Author

Thank you, Crafty!


suziecat7 profile image

suziecat7 3 years ago from Asheville, NC

I was happy to see you here again. Beautiful story that brought a tear to my eye.


WillStarr profile image

WillStarr 3 years ago from Phoenix, Arizona Author

Hi Suziecat, and thank you!


bethperry profile image

bethperry 3 years ago from Tennesee

What a beautiful tale, Will. It left me with tears :)


WillStarr profile image

WillStarr 3 years ago from Phoenix, Arizona Author

Thank you Beth. Part of it is true.


cam8510 profile image

cam8510 3 years ago from Columbus, Georgia until the end of November 2016.

Will, This story is so well written, I am impressed with what you have done here. A courtship, an engagement, two weddings, six lives, two funerals and lots of memories. This is a short story, but I feel like I've read a novel. Well done.


WillStarr profile image

WillStarr 3 years ago from Phoenix, Arizona Author

Thank you Cam, and Happy Thanksgiving!


Sueswan 2 years ago

Hi Will,

Your touchingly beautiful story moved me to tears. Loved the ending. Milk and cookies = Love and memories .

Voted up +++ and sharing

Take care :)


Sunshine625 profile image

Sunshine625 2 years ago from Orlando, FL

As always, I was hooked from start to finish :)


sharmapk752 2 years ago

What a beautiful story. I like it.........


WillStarr profile image

WillStarr 2 years ago from Phoenix, Arizona Author

Thank you, Sueswan!


WillStarr profile image

WillStarr 2 years ago from Phoenix, Arizona Author

Thank you, Sunshine!


WillStarr profile image

WillStarr 2 years ago from Phoenix, Arizona Author

Thank you, sharmapk752!


diogenes profile image

diogenes 2 years ago from UK and Mexico

Misty eyed with Will again. You never fail to get smoke into our eyes, Will. I wonder if you, too, are a little teary as you finish these jewels that you know will get us all reaching for the lapel of out dressing gowns again to wipe wrinkled old eyes.

ps Took my mind of my gout attack for a minute...well done!

Bob


WillStarr profile image

WillStarr 2 years ago from Phoenix, Arizona Author

Thank you Bob!

Nothing elicits a tear like a story about someone's mother.


RachaelOhalloran profile image

RachaelOhalloran 2 years ago from United States

This is another heartwarming story, Will. There's nothing like a story between a mother and child. :)


WillStarr profile image

WillStarr 2 years ago from Phoenix, Arizona Author

Thank you, Rachael!


LadyFiddler profile image

LadyFiddler 2 years ago from Somewhere in the West

Hi this story caught my attention because my uncle had one of these mini stroke recently. Where he does not remember certain things the symptoms comes and goes . Its sad to see how quickly a person can slump into another world after being so healthy.

Thanks for sharing another wonderful story.

God bless U


WillStarr profile image

WillStarr 2 years ago from Phoenix, Arizona Author

Thank you, LadyFiddler.


Minnetonka Twin profile image

Minnetonka Twin 2 years ago from Minnesota

I sit here with tears and goosebumps after reading this heart-warming story. You are so talented with short stories. I am sharing this all over, including on my Pinterest board of short-stories and/or flash fiction.


WillStarr profile image

WillStarr 2 years ago from Phoenix, Arizona Author

Thank you so much, Linda, and nice to see you again!


AudreyHowitt profile image

AudreyHowitt 2 years ago from California

So much heart here! Loved this!


WillStarr profile image

WillStarr 2 years ago from Phoenix, Arizona Author

Thank you Audrey, and have a great Fourth!


SubRon7 profile image

SubRon7 2 years ago from eastern North Dakota

While going through here I noticed I've read it before, but your stories remain fresh, Will, so I didn't remember.


WillStarr profile image

WillStarr 2 years ago from Phoenix, Arizona Author

Hi James!

I'm posting some of these on Facebook for people who never saw them. Most are relatives of mine. Thanks for the comment!


diogenes profile image

diogenes 2 years ago from UK and Mexico

Another winner Will. Just read with damp eyes by this old journo who would once have stubbed out his stogie on a corpse.

Bob


WillStarr profile image

WillStarr 2 years ago from Phoenix, Arizona Author

Hi Bob!

As a boy, I was part of a small group who used to taunt an old man in our little town because it made him very angry, but he was helpless to do anything about it. I now wish I could get on my knees and ask his forgiveness for my callousness, but he's long gone. I too have had a change of heart with age.


Peggy W profile image

Peggy W 20 months ago from Houston, Texas

Your story telling ability is wonderful. It was only 5 years ago that I held my own dear mother's hand as she died. I called upon her dear parents, my dad and both brothers to welcome her to the other side as they had all preceded her in death. I know they were waiting for her arrival. This just brought a tear to my eye and lump in my throat. Up and beautiful votes and will share.


WillStarr profile image

WillStarr 20 months ago from Phoenix, Arizona Author

Thank you, Peggy. This was written for my beloved wife, who lost her mother in a similar way. When her parents became unable to cope on their own, I invited them to come live with us. We turned our lower level into an apartment, where they both spent their final years.


Sunshine625 profile image

Sunshine625 20 months ago from Orlando, FL

Just as amazing the 2nd or 3rd time around...a mother's love never fades.


WillStarr profile image

WillStarr 20 months ago from Phoenix, Arizona Author

Thank you, Linda, and yes, a mother's love is one of life's most enduring gifts.


G-Ma Johnson 20 months ago

Been awhile...but as always you hit my heart with your wonderful understanding of so many things ...Touched me deeply as I miss my Mom very much...Thanks or being you Hugs G-Ma... :O)


WillStarr profile image

WillStarr 20 months ago from Phoenix, Arizona Author

Thank you, G-Ma!


James A Watkins profile image

James A Watkins 20 months ago from Chicago

Wow. I am bowled over by the beauty of these words.


WillStarr profile image

WillStarr 20 months ago from Phoenix, Arizona Author

Thank you James!

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