“Jam Session” by Laurel Bennett

I always tell Mom, “Call me anytime you need something.”

She’s still pretty independent at 85 (with her second new hip recently), and rarely asks for help beyond the twice-monthly vacuuming, patio sweeping, tub scrubbing and occasional weeding at the Bennett homestead.


But today I got the call. She was making strawberry/red plum jam and asked whether I would come over and get her canner off a high shelf in the garage. Of course I would. It was a privilege, and I was really glad my little, fragile mama chose not to climb on some teetering footstool to get it herself.


I arrived and headed back to the garage with her. The cabinet in question is right inside the doorway, with only about a two-foot clearance between it and the freezer. So with Mom holding the cabinet door open for me, she was all but blocking the way—and I would have to be on the other side of her to be able to reach the big pot on the top shelf.


“Mom, you’re in the way–I need to get around you.”


And she replied simply, without guile, “Well honey, turn to the side and come through.”


There was at most eight inches between Mom’s back and the freezer. The last time I squeezed through anything eight inches wide was well before 2019. Even before, sometime around 1984, when my friends and I tried to sneak into the Catholic cemetery one night under the light of a full moon. Everybody and everything slipped through the iron bars, except my boobs. I think my friends ended up having to push me over the top.


So, back to Mom’s garage…I eyed that gap, shrugged, sucked it in and attempted to pass. Except my left boob clocked Mom in the shoulder and the right side of her face, causing her to stumble, and I had to catch her before she lost her balance completely. I’m willing to swear those last couple of shuffle-steps were for dramatic effect, because she’s far too classy to comment outright on the boob-check; although I am not. I doubled over, envisioning a mock-headline: “Elderly University Place woman, felled by boob, heads into third hip surgery.”


Anyhow, the jam session is proceeding on schedule, and Mom’s apparently not holding a grudge. I’m still getting a few jars later this week.


Laurel Bennett is an almost-native of Tacoma (by way of Wichita and Yakima, when she was four). She writes everyday stories of raising children and of the constant realization that she has more to learn than she could ever teach. Other characters and subjects come along–parents and siblings, Gypsy the basset hound, the Taco Bell drive-through attendant. And values like appreciation, humor and gratitude–anything beautiful or funny or sustaining enough that it’s worth wrapping a story around, to keep it safe.