I think about my Mom and Dad almost everyday, even though they have left this earth they are still with me. My Mom was a special lady, she had her faults but each of us do. As the years pass the bad things dissipate and I am left with warm memories. I guess I get my love of cooking and feeding people from her.
There was always a crowd at our house when I was growing up, partially from the fact that there were 6 kids plus our parents. Add to that our grandparents many a weekend and you start with a crowd. My brothers had a lot of friends, some who became brothers in law but always seemed like they were brothers before that. They were in and out of the house and ate with us. Meals were important and we had assigned seating, Mom and Dad sat at the ends of the table, I sat to Mom's left with Danny next to me. Jim sat to Dad's left with Chris next to him and than Kevin next to Mom. For the life of me I cannot remember where Stephen sat although he is much younger and some how doesn't fit into the picture I remember. Perhaps one of the brothers can fill me in on Stephens place.
I remember one meal when Kevin wanted Mom's attention and kept pulling on her sleeve and saying Mom over and over again...he didn't earn any brownie points that night.
Mom was a good cook most of the time. She fed all of us on a dime, Dad had gotten blackballed by a company he had worked for and scraped to make a living. He was one of the hardest working men I have ever known.
Like all of us she had her boo boos like the time she tried to make baked beans. Now our parents had an
open house on New Years day, there was always a ton of food but the year I remember the most Mom cooked a turkey and Dad sliced it an put it all back together. A major engineering feat! Well Mom decided that year to make baked beans from scratch, we were not really a bean from scratch family and she got a recipe from somewhere. Somehow she missed the soaking and cooking of the beans, you can guess what they were like.....I have never tried to make them from scratch myself for fear that the same thing will happen to me.
What brought on this wave of nostalgia was a post from a friend on his blog for Beef Bourguignon. For my grandparents 50th wedding anniversary they had a drop in kind of thing at their apartment in Brooklyn. We weren't very involved in the details (my brothers and I) but Mom found this recipe for Beef in Wine Sauce (as I knew it to be). I only remember her making it that one time and it was absolutely delicious. It was many years later (like 40) when I was going through Michael's Betty Crocker Cookbook that I came across the very same recipe. It turned out just as good as it was many years ago. I also came across the infamous Three Bean Casserole, that did not taste good the first time and I will never replicate that one!
Sadly my Mom passed away from Cancer at the age of 60 and Dad followed her five years later, they had the kind of marriage most of us only dream of. They fought I am sure but their love overwhelmed everything else. They were strict with us and Dad was not shy of using the belt (which my brothers and I hid on many an occasion) but I feel we grew up to be better people because of it even though my brothers (especially Dan) took the brunt of it.
The picture that haunts my mind of Mom though is in a hospital bed unable to speak. Her bright blue eyes seeking me out, filled with fear. She couldn't talk and I wish I had been able to tell her it was okay to go the same as I did with Dad. We did hospice for Dad and I wish we had done it for Mom. She passed away in a nursing facility without her family around her in the early hours of the morning. I was living in California and for some reason I guess just expected her to live on even though she was not living a life.
Dad sucummed to cancer 5 years later. It was very quick but he was at home with us, we cared for him, loved him, gave him his medications but most of all he was at home. The day he died the nurse told me I had to tell him it was okay to go. That was the most painful moment of my life, to tell my Daddy it was okay to die, to leave us. All of us were together when Dad died, it was a remarkable moment, to be there when someone breathes their last breath. When you can no longer tell them your secrets, your dreams. It is not about you it's about them and the love they gave you.
I love my family, my husband, my daughters, my brothers, my uncles, my aunts and my cousins. I love the family I have that is not really family.
I am blessed.