Wednesday, May 26, 2010

My Mom

Tomorrow is the 2 year anniversary of my mom's death. I find I miss her more than ever as time goes by. She had a special gift of helping people see themselves the way God must see them--loved, valued and infinitely important.

But that's not what I want to talk about today. My mom also loved food. We had a special drink that we made in our house. We called it a "Lemon Juice Drink." (Wow. Weren't we creative?) We squeezed the juice out of a lemon, added water, sugar and salt and stirred it up. Those of us who liked this drink had a sixth sense about when someone was getting a lemon out of the fridge, and we'd hurry into the kitchen to say, "Will you make me one too?" Often I'd get stuck squeezing the lemons while my mom made the actual drink. There was no set recipe to follow, so making the drinks was the best job because the maker would have to sip from each glass until it tasted just right. One time we bought a whole bunch of lemons and sat around the kitchen drinking pitcher after pitcher full. It didn't seem that special at the time, but now that I'm a mom myself, I realize that moments of abundance like that don't come naturally to me. Lemons are expensive, and squeezing them takes time. Sometimes I find myself sneaking lemons out of the fridge when the kids are asleep so that I don't have to share. How sad it would be if this bizarre family drink died with me because I was too selfish to share it with my children.

My mom loved cream cheese wrapped up in pastrami. She said it was almost the only food she ate when she was pregnant with me. She also loved baked potatoes slathered with cheese, sour cream and lemon juice. Perhaps you're noticing a trend here. She liberally seasoned nearly every food she made with lemon pepper. I used to tease her about that mercilessly, but now I'm the same way with garlic.

She never did things in a small way. When I was a kid, we used to make bread--but she always tripled the recipe. She was big on letting us sneak tastes too. We'd take a small bit of dough and dip it in melted butter and then dip it in cinnamon and sugar. Yum. With that bread dough we might make bread, or we might make cinnamon rolls, or maybe even scones (not the British kind--the fried bread dough kind.) But whatever we made, some of it went to a neighbor or two.

My mom hated breakfast. If she was trying to be a good example she could force down a few frosted mini-wheats, but I don't think that was her daily routine. Her favorite breakfast food was Pepsi. She was a Pepsi connoisseur who swore there was a difference between the stuff in the can and the stuff that came out of a soda fountain. It was one of the few things she hated about Maine--there are no soda fountains in the gas stations. A whole state full of deprived people!

I remember how excited she was to eat a lobster in Maine. But when it came, she could hardly eat it because the eyes were staring at her. Still, every time she came to visit, she would say, "We've got to go to the Weathervane restaurant." Restaurants are places to return to--places to get into a routine with. That's the way to make a memory. Whenever we went to the Weathervane, she'd have to stop at the cute little shop next door, and then we'd have to walk down the wharf and look for star fish. I think she had similar routines with all her favorite restaurants.

She always ordered her big macs with extra sauce. She saved the ketchup/mayonnaise packets from Arctic Circle until she learned how to make her own. She would often stop at Su Casa to pick up an order of freshly made chips and salsa and bring it home to snack on as we made dinner.

I'm stopping now, not because I'm out of memories, but because this is already too long. I haven't even mentioned the Green Mint Cookies (we really weren't very good at making up names for our foods, were we?) or the fondue dinners yet. I hope people will share some of their food memories of my mom, because she used food as a tool to do her favorite thing--making memories with the people she loved.


  1. My comment is more about something you said. I find myself sometimes also waiting until I don't have to share. It's my goal not to though. One thing Mom did that I have thought about just about every day since she has been gone is that when I would ask her for a taste of her pepsi or a bite of her potato or something. Instead of complaining about it, like I might do sometimes, she would say something cute like, "I thought you would never ask!" Or "Nothing would make me happier!" Or "Oh, please do!" Even when I'm sure she would have been happy to have it to herself. That is something from Mom that I plan to work on to do myself.... Also her baked potatoes - I always tried to get them the way she made them. I have never been able to. I will also be very grateful to her forever for making special meals for me growing up. I know there was extra work that came with it. Because of that I was able to grow up normal and have a family of my own.... she was a great cook! I love you Mom

  2. What wonderful memories you have, Melanie. Anniversaries are tough, especially in the beginning when emotions are still very raw. Over time they mellow.

    Thanks for sharing your memories!

  3. I totally remember you making those lemon drinks! I remember that I loved spending time at your house because your mom always made me feel loved and welcomed.
    You guys were the ones who introduced me to Su Casa, and I still love it. I was there a couple times when she brought home the chips & salsa.
    Do you remember the time we tried to double the mint cookie recipe and it didn't work out? I have so many awesome memories of spending time at your house! :)
    I hope you don't have a sad day tomorrow. You can call me if you need to talk. Love ya!

  4. Oh man. I miss my second mommy. I still forget she is gone since I'm not there to see it. Dang it.
    When I lived there last time she made us sweet and sour meatballs and every time I make them I think of her. I remember watching every step. I also remember she browned hamburger in a pot instead of a pan. I thought that was so weird at the time cuz I had never seen someone do it before. Now I do it sometimes just to remember her.

    I don't remember drinking the lemon drink at all. How did I miss out on that?

    She and your sisters threw me my bridal shower and made croissants with chicken salad. I had those A LOT when I was down there. And mmmMMMmm they were good.

    I remember Melissa and I sitting at the bar and helping her cut things up and sneaking handfuls of food. I remember lots of baked potatoes but mostly Melissa and I got those on our own.

    And who could forget the Pepsi? On the way to school every day she'd stop and fill up her drink. And I agree with her, it's different in the fountain.

    I also remember eating outside a lot. I love that backyard and the good food!

    I have so many things I could say but I think these are all the food things. You should do more of these where it can pull out all my memories. I don't want to forget.

  5. I know my comment was long enough. But I wanted to reply to Melissa. I remember that! Your mom was the most charitable person I've ever met and I remember saying those things. I should be better too!

  6. Mom liked to make food an event. She liked to share it with everyone. She took meals to people all the time that were having a hard time. She made yummy treats for holidays and took them to all the neighbors. Remember the Christmas tree bread? And I love to make her cheese ball still. Lots of BBQs with family and friends and the group home ladies. She knew that food brought people together and she loved to be together!