I am traveling back through time to Mummy’s laughter. To the way she would give herself over to the laugh. All of her, her head, her belly, her feet stomping out a dance of resistance to the attempts by her laughter to colonize her whole being.
My mothers laughter happened from her toepoint and exploded through her lips at the same time it closed her eyes. It had travelled far, this laughter; and gained momentum in her bellybottom. And by the time it got to the top of her belly its intention was clear. My mother’s laughter would free itself through her mouth and it would cause her to bend at the waist and spill tears from her eyes.
One day, my mother and I were to travel for Black River, she for some unnamed mission. I was going to school. But as usual I got stuck in my head and moved too slow and she waited on me too long, so she left me. I was looking forward to the two mile trek to New Market to take a bus to go to Black River with her. She was impatient with how slow I was moving. I was just about to dash through the yard to try and catch up with her, when I saw her walking towards me. Annoyed, complaining that she had left her tested glasses in her bedroom on the dresser. “Look how me a run fi lef yuh an haffi turn back fi get me glasses” I stared at her in amazement, convinced my mother had lost a few screws. I was finally able to breathe out “Yuh glasses on yuh face” she touched her face, then she looked at me in shock as realization hit her. Then she laughed, she gave herself over to the laugh, she couldnt stand on her own, she rested against the concrete tank which stored our water for domestic use and she threw her head back and laughed. Then she took the glasses off her face looked at it and laughed. She took her bag from her shoulder put it on the ground beside her and laughed. I had to get her some water and then I hugged her and we both laughed. Mother and daughter in that sweet moment of ire, that had somehow become joy, laughter and sweet connection.
I have so many stories of my mothers laughter. Of the ways in which this busy woman, mother of eleven, the consummate grandmother, Maas Rupie’s wife, lay pastor and community elder, market woman and the world’s greatest cook, would give herself over to joy. How she would stop time and just laugh. How the laugh would travel from her toepoint, up to her bellybottom and then it would burst from her throathole and cause eye water to squeeze through her tightly closed eyes.
Of all the things I miss nowadays, I miss my mother’s laugh the most. I miss the joy of it, I miss the presence of it because her laughter inspired mine, it caused me to be present. Her laughter was like a dance that took shape and gathered momentum and then proceeded into a grand finale. It announced itself with an insistence that it had to happen. My mother could not control her laugh, I mean it didnt happen in church during the service or the sermon. But when the women gathered to put away the communion vessels and when the treasurer was counting up the collection money and the secretary was recording what needed to be recorded for that Sunday. And when I was so hungry that I could smell the rice and peas and stew pork that was waiting at home because she had cooked before church, it would come. That laughter would erupt from Mummy, I never knew what inspired it then. I know I couldnt dare ask, but to be honest I wasnt interested. I knew that when my mother laughed the world was set right side up and it would remind me that I didnt need to be anxious.