(Sample chapter from The Vision of a Mother’s Heart)
Isabel gazed at the star from her bedroom window and
wondered what she could do to honor Mama and Papa. The
answer came to her as she closed her eyes to sleep. “I will get
up before Mama and go blueberry picking to fix blueberry
pancakes for breakfast.” Isabel whispered, “Boy, will Mama
and Papa be surprised.” But what if I oversleep and don’t get up
Isabel counted every hour, according to the coo-coo clock in
the front parlor. “Oh, be quiet you kooky bird,” Isabel whispered.
“Wow, 3:00 A.M., and I still haven’t been to sleep yet.” Her eyes
finally closed, and she gave into sleep.
The rooster sounded the alarm outside of Isabel’s window
just before sunrise, and she jumped into her clothes, pulled the
covers over her pillow, and then tiptoed downstairs and toward
the back door. “Good,” she whispered as she passed the cold cook stove,
“Mama and Papa aren’t up yet.”
She cringed as the back door squeaked, and then she closed
the screen door gently as she stepped into the predawn light.
Something bumped against her legs, causing her to jump and
immediately put her hand over her mouth to stifle the scream
that threatened to escape. “Sandy,” she whispered to the friendly
dog, whose tail wagged back and forth, “don’t scare me like that.
Come on, you may help pick blueberries. Besides, you’ll scare
away any snakes or bears that might be eating their breakfast
in our berry patch.” Isabel stopped by the barn and chose two
buckets for her chore.
When Isabel returned forty-minutes later, the buckets
were full, as was the bonnet Mama always insisted Isabel wear
whenever she went outside. She smiled as she quoted Mama’s
words to Sandy, “You must take care of your skin, Isabel; we
don’t want your skin to get tough and tanned because it will
cause wrinkles and dark spots when you are my age. If you take
care and cover up, you will have a beautiful peaches-and-cream
complexion.” Isabel wrinkled her nose and popped a blueberry
into her mouth as she headed back to the kitchen.
When she opened the kitchen door, Papa jumped. “What
are you doing up at this hour, child?” He lit a match and placed
it into the stove, blowing on it to make sure it caught on.
“I thought I would surprise Mama and make breakfast this
morning.” She smiled as she brought the buckets of berries into
“Whoo-ee,” Papa said as he lifted the buckets into the sink
so she could wash them. “These look good.” He snatched a
couple and popped them into his mouth. “Boy, your mama will
be surprised. Is this a special day?”
“Nope,” Isabel smiled, revealing her blue teeth and tongue.
“I just wanted to honor Mama, that’s all.”
“She’ll be surprised alright.” He grinned. “It looks like you
have enough there to also make a cobbler and a jar of jam to
boot.”Isabel beamed at Papa’s exaggeration, as this was his way of
Soon the fire in the stove was roaring and ready for cooking.
Isabel washed the berries and set them in Mama’s large colander
to drain. She checked Mama’s recipe card and pulled out the
rest of the ingredients for her meal. Papa shaved at the kitchen
mirror before heading outside to do his chores.
Isabel measured out the flour, baking powder, salt, and sugar
without spilling too much on the worktable and the floor. In
a larger bowl, she beat the eggs until they were light and fluffy
and then added buttermilk and grease from the crock above the
stove. Then she dropped in the dry ingredients one by one, until
they were mixed well, being careful not to over stir as Mama had
taught her—she wanted fluffy pancakes and not tough ones.
Finally, she folded in a generous amount of berries as the skillet
heated on the stove.
The first cake burned on the bottom. “The first one always
burns.” She carried the offending cake to the back door and fed
it to the thankful dog.
By the time Mama came downstairs, Isabel had the coffee
perking at the back of the stove, bacon frying in another skillet,
and a platter of pancakes sitting in the warming oven as she
poured the remaining batter into her skillet.
“I smelled something wonderful and thought I was
dreaming,” Mama said. She crossed the room and embraced
Isabel, who was covered with pancake batter, splattered grease,
and flour that was smudged across her cheek.
“Oh, Isabel,” Mama continued, “this is the most wonderful surprise I have
ever had. Did you have anything to do with this, Papa?”
Papa splashed Old Spice on his face and wiped his hands
on the white towel hanging by his mirror and shelf.
“Nope,” he said, “she came up with it all on her own. She went out before
sunup, picked berries all by herself, and did everything except
light the stove and lift the heavy skillets. You raised her right,
Mama.” He grinned as he picked up the shaving bowl and
headed to the back door to pour the water on Mama’s rosebush.