Raking – the mom’s perspective

I wrote a raking story a few weeks ago from my childhood HERE. Today I am trying to tell this same story but from the mom’s point of view. Here goes….

As I turn the corner, I saw the sign. Other neighbors would be happy to see the announcement that a week from today the leaf collector trucks would come.  Others would but not me.

“Look,” breaks my memory. It’s Sally pointing to the sign. “Can I help rake?” she asks eagerly.

“No silly. Those men come and rake our leafs, right mom?” Cathi corrects her in that voice only an older sister has. It sounds more like she is really saying, “Don’t you know anything? What a stupid question to ask.”

“But mom, I could help. Please…” Sally pressed.

“Maybe,” I replied as I pull the car into the driveway. “Right now let’s get the groceries into the house and I’ll start dinner.”

As I brown the ground beef to make chili, I think maybe it is time to do this task again. Then I allow myself to return to that November day. Have seven years really passed? I can see one- month old Sally, asleep in her bassinet and Jeannie looking out the window at the backyard, smiling and feeling better today.

“Rake?” she asks. Her blond curls frame her little three-year old face, making her look even more angelic today.

I recall the doctor saying to take our cues from Jeannie. If she feels up to doing, then do.

I glance at my new bundle fast asleep. Having just started a nap, I know I’ll be free for at least an hour. “Cathi, Jeanne,” I announce. “Let’s go rake!”

Once outside, I hand each a smaller rake and I grab mine. I work to create a big pile for jumping. Then I rake away a long path to the pile, making it look like an airport runway.

“OK, who wants to jump in this pile I’ve made?” I announce. Cathi and Jeannie drop their rakes and rush over.

“Me first,” Cathi says.

“On your mark, get set, go!” I shout and Cathi runs down the cleared path and jumps into a pile twice her height. Soon I can’t even see her for the leaves gobbled her up. But Jeannie and I can hear her giggles. I go help lift her out.

“My turn, my turn,” Jeannie shouts excitedly.

“OK, on your mark, get set, go!” Her legs move slowly down the path and wanting to be so much like her sister, she hops into the pile and laughs, too. We repeat this over and over and over, running and laughing and enjoying a fall day outside.

That was the last day we played together outside. Days later, the leukemia in her body got stronger and she got weaker. Then in May, she left us.

That following Fall I hired men to rake the leaves, bag them and remove them from our yard. And each fall since.

Now, remembering Jeannie’s doctor’s advice, I think “Maybe, today I still should take my cues from my daughters. If they are up for doing this task, then we do it.”



5 thoughts on “Raking – the mom’s perspective

  1. maryannreilly says:

    wow. such a sensitive piece. i understand why your mom would want to hire men to take the leaves away. i also understand ho the object of grief can become a token of solace. the leaves transform into possibility–a source of joy at the end. thank you for this.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. jarhartz says:

    Sally, I love how you took your small moment to another lens. Living an experience as a child and then viewing it as the mother is an amazing writer and heart exercise. Imagine a book of stories told in this way…


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