The Cedarville Review 2021

“We’ll just take it as it comes.” My mom said on the other end of the phone line that twisted its way from Cumberland, Maryland to Cedarville, Ohio. It spanned a distance of 320 miles and I felt every one of them. If there’s anything that could sum up my mom’s philosophy of life, it’s those seven words. She’s been taking as it comes her whole life. In fact, if life was a boxing match, there is no doubt in my mind that she’d be the heavyweight champion. In reality, at 5 foot 4 my mom is a tiny woman. Her collar bone sticks out from below her freckled skin like some sort of sprout jutting up out of the dirt. The freckles, she says, are from working on the farm as a child; no one cared much about sunscreen in the 1970s. I guess the farm is really where she first started taking things as they came. When I was young, she would always tell me stories about her grandmother’s bull. He was 2,500 pounds of hard, lean muscle with a fiery attitude. They never bothered to give him a name, at least not that she could remember, but mom told me that he snorted like a train. When my mom and uncle would get home from school, they would hurl themselves over the barbed wire fence, run across the pasture, and pray that the bull wouldn’t notice them. The heifers didn’t much mind Mom and uncle Randy cutting across that field, but the bull sure did. There were times, she said, that she could almost feel the warm breath of the bull on the back of her neck as she flung her backpack across the fence to safety and tumbled over after it, desperately trying not to get stuck on the barbed wire. She told me the bull always scared them out of their pants, but cutting across the pasture was the quickest way back to the house. Still, scarier than the bull was PopPop, my mom’s grandfather. Ordinarily, he was nice enough, AS IT COMES ASHLEY RIDDLE