Editor’s note: Although Mother’s Day was this past Sunday, there is no reason the mothers in our lives cannot be celebrated more than once each year. Mothers can be biological, but it is certainly not a requirement. This mother-daughter duo show just how strong the bond and love of a mother can be, and how memories bring together more than any distance can separate.
Cindy Hudson has had articles and stories published in various publications across the United States. Her mother, Catherine Blanchard, has always told stories but just started writing them a few years ago. Now, the two use writing to bridge the thousands of miles between back Brusly and Portland, Oregon.
Cindy’s most recent work was published in the Chicken Soup for the Soul: My Amazing Mom edition. Mothers have ever-evolving roles in the many facets and challenges of life. Even when they’re thousands of miles away.
Cindy and Catherine spend afternoons on the back porch of Catherine’s century-old home just past the Brusly Oak when Cindy comes home. While they sip coffee and nibble on buttermilk bundt cake, they flip through pages of stories written by Catherine.
The two laugh and reminisce, often finishing each other’s sentences. It is nearly impossible to suspect they have lived across the country from one another for more than three decades.
For a few years, the mother-daughter-duo were roommates when Catherine was newly divorced and Cindy was studying journalism at LSU. During those days they shared early mornings filled with butchered French and stories at the kitchen table.
Catherine told stories of buying groceries with ration stamps, the German Prisoner of War bus that passed on her way to school and the days of having neighborhood ladies over for coffee after hanging up clothes on the line to dry. As hard as Cindy tried, though, she never quite told them like her mom did.
“It’s the way she says it,” Cindy said.
Soon after Cindy graduated from LSU she sat down at that same kitchen table to tell her mom of plans to move to Portland, Oregon in pursuit of love, and a job.
Cindy was pleasantly surprised when, instead of sobbing and begging her to stay, Catherine asked about her plans to get there. When the details were sorted, Catherine quietly retreated to her sewing machine.
“I thought to move to Oregon might as well have been moving out of the country,” Cindy said.
She’s never been one to express her feelings, she admitted, and her latest sewing project was a gentle distraction from the fear she felt for her daughter.
Two weeks later, banana bread in-tow, Catherine got into the passenger seat and the pair road tripped from back Brusly to Portland.
When Catherine returned to Brusly, the two began a Sunday morning tradition, which continues to this day. Pinching pennies where they could, the two made a one-hour appointment every Sunday morning, when the call rates were the cheapest.
In the thirty years since that conversation at the kitchen counter, Cindy and Catherine have traveled the world together, visiting London, Florence, and each other at home at least once a year. They also travel back in time whenever they wish, through Catherine’s collection of writings.
Hearing the stories her mother told was always easy, but getting her to write them down took some work.
“It took two years of staying on my case before I wrote anything,” Catherine said.
Once Catherine was convinced and began to write, she didn’t stop.
“I thought, I know these things but how long will I remember them?” Catherine said.
The book consists of stories of Catherine’s childhood, adult life, and family members. The book is one of the family’s greatest treasures, Cindy said.
Despite having lived half of her life in Portland with her husband and children, Cindy still considers back Brusly, just past the Oak, home.
“When she comes here she’s home because home is where her mom is,” Catherine said.