Thursday, July 29, 2010

Wednesday Night, Late

My mother wasn’t much of a cook. She could have been, she had the skills, but she wasn't interested. She was coerced into teaching the cooking badge to my Girl Scout troop when I was in the fifth grade and she did an excellent job. She taught us basic cooking skills like how to measure solids and scrape the measuring cup with the back of a straight knife, when and how to sift flour and the importance of following the recipe when baking. I think she grew up with very little money and her sense of frugality never allowed her to find pleasure in cooking or eating. Being a working mother of three children probably didn’t help either.

When my mother died, we had only four days to empty her apartment. It felt like we were erasing her life. We sold/donated/discarded and otherwise disposed of most everything. I packed just a few special items to ship home to California. When my box arrived, I was unhappy to see that my husband had slipped in other items he thought I’d want later. We already have a problem with too much “stuff” at our house.

One item Larry packed was my mother’s recipe box. For the first time, tonight, when I couldn’t sleep, I looked inside the recipe box. I’m sure she never made most of the recipes on the magazine and newspaper clippings or the typed or handwritten index cards in the box. We shared only two recipes that I could find – two that I had requested from her over 30 years ago. A squash casserole and a strawberry jello salad. Maybe she made a couple of others for church potlucks and a few of the cookies sounded familiar. She did like to bake cookies at Christmas for her neighbors. I also found a recipe in my grandmother’s handwriting, which was a pleasant surprise.

Today is the 5 year anniversary of my mother’s death. And I just realized it was also my grandson’s due date. I am so glad he arrived early and did not have to share the date with her. It was so difficult to leave him and return home just a few days after his birth. Maybe I’m not just suffering from my version of post-partum depression having to leave this child who began laughing at four days old. Maybe I’m missing my mother, too.

I’ll keep the recipe box. Maybe I’ll try a recipe or two for the fun of it. My mother didn’t spend much time with my son, but I’m hoping I’ll spend far more time with his son. Maybe I’ll even teach him how to cook. At least I can show him how we collected recipes in the days before there were computers, by keeping his great-grandmother’s recipe box.

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