My mother passed away in early March of 2020 at the age of 100 years and six months, three and a half years after being diagnosed with metastatic breast cancer. For most of that time she was well and alert and it was really only in the last couple of months that her quality of life declined. She’d received her congratulatory letters from The Queen, Governor-General, Prime Minister, etc. for reaching 100 and had been able to attend the Governor’s Centenary Afternoon Tea.
We lived together and I provided full time care for her and we were best friends. Her death coincided with the start of COVID-19 restrictions in Melbourne, Australia and coping with grief at the same time I was having to spend my time alone made it particularly hard and lonely.
My mother’s birthday was at the end of August and it was the first time I’d spent it without her, so I wanted to celebrate her life by cooking something she would have enjoyed and that we both loved.
Scones were always a bit of joke around the family as my mother was a good cook, but scones and pastry were her downfall. She hated rubbing butter into flour, essential steps in both. We used to joke that her scones were more like rocks, and so once I learned how to cook, I took over making these for the family. Then we discovered some scone recipes that didn’t involve rubbing butter into flour and Mother finally had success! Those two recipes became a favourite with us when we wanted a treat for an afternoon tea.
So, I decided to make Orange Scones, and while they were still warm took some to neighbours who knew her, as another way to share her memory with others. I found myself choking up each time I explained why I was bringing them scones, but I also felt her love with me and knew if she’d been there, she’d have been looking forward to eating a freshly baked, orange-scented scone, pulled open with butter melting into the surface.