At the age of five, I was obsessed with crumpets. It’s spongy texture, covered with bubble holes, and slathered with butter and syrup, filled my little heart with delight. Whenever I get a waft of it in the air, I’d squeal like my sister at the pony fair. It’s insane, thinking about it now. Every day during my obsession, I begged my mother to make me crumpets for breakfast, lunch, and dinner. It was a craving I couldn’t ignore. Thankfully, my mother gave in… but only on Sundays.
While the rest of the family had proper meals, she made me crumpets all day long. Sundays became Crumpet Days, and she kept at it until my obsession ended a year later. I’m not too sure how healthy it was for a child to be consuming 52 Sundays worth of crumpets, but because I did, crumpets became my childhood icon. It wasn’t Tic Tacs, sugar sprinkled buttered toast, Voodoo Jelly, or hot cocoa on a rainy day… it was crumpets.
And crumpets wasn’t the end.
At the age of fifteen, I joined the school band. My sister warned me that being in the school band would be tough. She forgot to mention why. You see, when I was growing up, school bands weren’t a thing. Back then, school bands didn’t make it on YouTube or went viral for their choreographed marching. Nobody cared for the school band – nobody but me.
The first thing I did, at the start of the school year, was beg my parents to buy me a tuba. Of all the instruments I could’ve wanted, I chose the tuba. I know, a strange choice. When I got to school, the music teacher was thrilled to have me. It seems I was the only tuba player around. Just like my father said, “Tubas aren’t popular. How about a trumpet instead?” Well, it was a good thing my mother convinced him otherwise. What would the school band do with five trumpets and two drums?
My tuba days lasted until I graduated secondary school. During the first year, my parents attended Sports Day just to watch me march the field and huff into the heavy brass. My sister was forced to come along for moral support, but all she did was pout. That was the first and last time my whole family came out to cheer me on. In the following years, it was only my mother who showed up. She was proud and she wanted to scream my name, no matter how embarrassing it got. My father, on the other hand, gave up in convincing me to join the sports team. I’m guessing he and my sister slept in on two years of my embarrassing life.
The people in black chuckled. I chuckled along. With a thin smile, I continued on.
When I began my university years, my parents were the proudest they could be. I was thrilled too, to have beaten my sister with more A’s, and to be able to finally live my own life. I was a free bird. Kind of. During my final year, things got a little tough. I wasn’t in a healthy relationship, my lecturers were giving me a hard time, and I couldn’t stay focus long enough to prepare for my finals. Because of the stress, I developed a migraine. It was the throbbing kind that lingered throughout the day. It wasn’t splitting my skull or pushing my eyes out of their sockets, but it was there, annoyingly thumping the back of my head. I tried all kinds of painkillers to fix myself. But when they all failed, I ranted about it to my sister. A week after that, I received some aspirin in the mail.
I learned one thing that day: you shouldn’t tell your sister everything. With the aspirin came a note from my mother asking me to give that particular brand a shot. She said it always worked for her. As though her words were some kind of incantation, I popped two tablets and the migraine left… for good. It was then I realised something.
I heard a sniffle. I hadn’t even read the heart-wrenching part, and there was already a sniffle. It only made it harder for me to go on. Inevitably, my throat tightened and my chest began to ache. When I turned to look at my father, he gave a firm nod for me to go on. So I did.
I realised the power of a mother.
There was nothing special about the crumpets I craved as a child. There were no drugs in them. The only secret ingredient was my mother’s love. And to be honest, I wasn’t a good tuba player. But my mother never stopped encouraging me no matter how terrible I was. As for the aspirins she sent, they weren’t any more powerful than the ones I bought myself. Subconsciously, my body trusted her words and healed itself.
A mother is special because there’s power in everything she does. And that power, which she uses to guide, nurture, and protect, comes from an unfathomable love. I cannot comprehend this love – maybe my sister can – but I surely cannot. All I can do is remember.
Turning to the open casket behind me, I took a deep breath and gazed upon the woman who gave her all. I was blessed to have her in my life. She was always there, waiting to come to my aid. Now, I’ll just have to live on my own. If this is what a free bird feels like, I should’ve never grown up.
“I love you, mum,” I said. “I’ve never said it before, I know, and I’m sorry. But if it counts for something, I’ve always remembered. And I’ll continue to remember your undying love for the rest of my life.”
Crumpet, tuba, and aspirin were words given by LionAroundWriting. On a regular day, these words would’ve been a challenge to make up a story. Thankfully, it was just Mother’s Day. So in the spirit of honouring mothers everywhere, and also remembering my own mother’s unfathomable love, I’ve decided to write this piece. Hopefully, you liked it.
Now, it’s your turn. I challenge you to use this same three words and write a piece of your own. It could be about anything or it could be themed for Mother’s Day too. It’s completely up to you. Just write however these words inspire and be sure to link your work in the comment section below.
Happy belated Mother’s Day to all! And happy writing to you too.
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3 Words, 1 Story © 2016 by Jeyna Grace. All rights reserved.
(Click HERE for a list of stories in this writing challenge.)