A Toast to Mother

Today is the fourteenth anniversary of my mother’s death. I have thought about her more since I moved here to my new home than in all the years since she died. Sometimes the memories come from nowhere, just the odd thought that I haven’t talked to her for a while and should call to see how she is doing.

Sometimes the memory comes from something of hers I have and use. She used to have a cupboard full of unmatched stemware. I kept those goblets when I cleaned out the house after my father died, and so now I, too, have a cupboard of unmatched stemware.

Sometimes an old memory arises, and I’d like to ask her what that was about. For example, decades ago she told me that when I was a baby, I had casts on my legs. I was under the impression that the casts were to correct leg or hip alignment, though why casts, I don’t know, since my siblings all had braces (a curved metal piece connected to shoes). I read that the current research shows that babies’ legs adjust on their own, so I don’t even know if they use such devices anymore. But I never heard of using casts for that problem, and now I will never know what they were for. It never really mattered, but now my feet seem to be turning in more than they used to, and I wonder if age and use is undoing what the casts did. I’ll never know that now, either.

When I got my first apartment, I asked her for the recipes that I especially liked — things like pierogis, tuna roll with cheese sauce, and hamburger rolls (known to others as Runzas or bierocks). I found it interesting that I was the only one of my siblings who had those recipes, so several years ago, I made each of my siblings a recipe book, which included those recipes as well as a Friday staple of our youth: creamed tuna and peas on toast. (Sounds disgusting but was actually quite tasty.)

I didn’t copy all of her cookie recipes. Neither cherry winks nor date nut pinwheels were favorites of mine when I was young, but a couple of years ago when I suddenly got a taste for those cookies, I thought of calling her and asking for the recipes. Luckily, my sister kept them, thinking that mother’s treat recipes shouldn’t be thrown away so now I’ve collected some of the recipes I didn’t back then. Also, I imagine that at the time I got that first bunch of recipes, I wasn’t considering the distant future when she’d be gone.

Well now, she is.

She wasn’t much of a drinker, though she did love Bailey’s Irish Cream, so in honor of her this day, I offer a toast — Baileys in a Baileys glass that once belonged to her!

Here’s to you, Mom. I hope your new life is what you’ve prayed it would be.

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Pat Bertram is the author of Grief: The Inside Story – A Guide to Surviving the Loss of a Loved One. “Grief: The Inside Story is perfect and that is not hyperbole! It is exactly what folk who are grieving need to read.” –Leesa Healy, RN, GDAS GDAT, Emotional/Mental Health Therapist & Educator.

A Toast to Mother

Today is the twelfth anniversary of my mother’s death. I have thought about her more since I moved here to my new home than in all the years I lived at her house.

Admittedly, by the time I got to her house to take care of my father, it wasn’t really her house any more. During the last nine months of her life, she’d cleared out all of her things, and returned all the presents we’d given her over the years. (As one sister said, “If I had known we’d get this stuff back, I’d have given her better gifts.”)

There were a few things left that reminded me of her, like the cupboard full of unmatched stemware. I kept those goblets, and so now I too, have a cupboard of unmatched stemware. I also kept a few interesting utensils, ones that I didn’t already have, and a tiny cutting board, just perfect for cutting an apple. Also a few bits of furniture.

Ah ha! Now I know why I think of her so much. After my father died, I’d packed away the gifts she’d returned to me along with the few pieces I kept when I closed out their house. Now those things are part of my daily life, and every one of them reminds me of her.

When I got my first apartment, I asked her for the recipes that I especially liked — things like pierogis, tuna roll with cheese sauce, and hamburger rolls (known to others as Runzas or bierocks). I found it interesting that I was the only one of my siblings who had those recipes, so several years ago, I made each of my siblings a “Taste of Childhood” recipe book, which included those recipes as well as a Friday staple of our youth: creamed tuna and peas on toast. (Sounds disgusting but was actually quite tasty.)

I didn’t copy all of her cookie recipes. Neither cherry winks nor date nut pinwheels were favorites of mine when I was young, but luckily, my sister kept them, thinking that mother’s treat recipes shouldn’t be thrown away so now I am collecting some of the recipes I didn’t back then. Also, I imagine that at the time I got that first bunch of recipes, I wasn’t considering the distant future when she’d be gone.

Well now, she is.

She wasn’t much of a drinker, though she did love Bailey’s Irish Cream, so in honor of her this day, I offer a toast — in a Bailey’s glass that once belonged to her!

Here’s to you, Mom. I hope your new life is what you’ve prayed for.

***

Pat Bertram is the author of Grief: The Inside Story – A Guide to Surviving the Loss of a Loved One. “Grief: The Inside Story is perfect and that is not hyperbole! It is exactly what folk who are grieving need to read.” –Leesa Healy, RN, GDAS GDAT, Emotional/Mental Health Therapist & Educator.

Anything Goes

I’m feeling restless today, as if waiting for something to happen, though I’m not sure what. Life, perhaps. Or maybe death. My father is teetering on the brink, but he is still too connected to life to want to let go and too tired of it all to want to stay. At ninety-seven, and after two months of being mostly bedridden, he’s entitled. Still, his unrest leaves its imprint on the house.

I was fine at my dance classes today, going through our Hawaiian routines, playing our Tahitian numbers (I say playing because Tahitian more than any of the others, makes me feel light and free), and practicing paradiddles and on Broadway (or Shirley Temple or Spaghetti, depending on what era you learned to tap) and putting them together with flap-ball-changes for a little tap dance. I was even fine at lunch afterward. But when I walked into this house, I was beset by restlessness. (Which is why I am late with today’s post.) Couldn’t sit still, couldn’t think, couldn’t do much of anything.)

My sister and I spent the late afternoon baking one of our family’s childhood favorites, a sort of convocation or invocation of the spirits, seeing if perhaps our deceased mother would come help with our father. He seems more settled tonight, so perhaps she came. And we had our first meal together in — hmmm. I can’t remember the last time. Since we’ve been taking turns looking after our father, we are seldom both here at the same time except at night.

We’ve had our times of not getting along — we are just too different — but tonight we were in perfect accord, she working the dough and me fixing the filling.

This isn’t exactly a recipe-type blog, but what the heck — it’s become something of a diary, so anything goes, right?

Hamburger Rolls

Combine 2 Tablespoons sugar, 1½ teasHamburger Rollspoon salt, 3 tablespoons shortening. Add ½ cup boiling water; stir well until dissolved. Add ½ cup milk then add 1 cake yeast crumbled. Blend in 3 cups sifted flour. Let rise once until double, roll out ¼” thick, and cut in squares approximately 3”x3”. Place a couple of tablespoonfuls of hamburger/cabbage filling to in the middle of the square, fold corners of dough to the center and pinch closed. Put rolls in greased and let rise a about 30 minutes. Cook 15 to 20 minutes at 400°.

Filling

Brown 1½ lbs ground beef, skim off grease. Slice cabbage (that had been boiled until tender) and some onion, add to ground beef. Season with parsley flakes, salt, pepper. Cook with cover on for 10 minutes.

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Pat Bertram is the author of the suspense novels Light Bringer, More Deaths Than One, A Spark of Heavenly Fire, and Daughter Am I. Bertram is also the author of Grief: The Great Yearning, “an exquisite book, wrenching to read, and at the same time full of profound truths.” Connect with Pat on Google+. Like Pat on Facebook.