Chopping a mountain of broccoli in the kitchen this afternoon, I slipped into, what I like to consider, a zen attitude. You see, it's a rainy day and there are groceries languishing in the fridge. In a gastronomic fit of inspiration I started dicing up onion, garlic, carrot, one potato and the broccoli to prepare soup...broccoli cheddar soup. And, while the soup is simmering, there are chicken cutlets and potatoes baking in the oven.
You might be wondering where I am going with this Mom, well, I'll tell you. This very zen space that I find myself in, alone in my kitchen has me channeling back to the faux white brick wallpapered kitchen of my youth. Remember? The kitchen with the knottey pine cabinets, bright orange breakfast nook and the oven door that didn't always want to stay closed? What I see in my minds eye is you, Mom, handing me a sleeve of Ritz crackers to crush while you are chopping and dicing away at mushrooms and onions, and in my mind I can actually smell the saute pan full of aromatics. Without telling us that these were important life lessons, we learned not only to eat our veggies and protein, but to savor the method of how the meal came to be. You taught me to be fearless in the kitchen.
At a cousin's wedding, you once popped a cracker smeared with caviar into my mouth and told me that I would love it and you were right...I did. You taught me to be fearless when it came to foods and flavors...how delicious a soft shell crab could be and how much more delicious lobster tasted when eaten at Trader Vic's in New York. You were a "foodie" before the term existed and I thank you for passing that passion on to me.
You also taught me how to make a party out of extreme adversity. That there are ways of getting through the bad times...and there were plenty of bad times. It is the good times that I want to remember though...the sharing of a small wheel of camembert and a pear while just hanging out together...the TV trays set up in front of The Wizard of Oz every year...the way you confiscated our lolly pops on Halloween so you could make a tree out of them for the pediatrics ward at the hospital.
It is the way you reacted to life in general that gave us the lessons that we take with us today. So, on your 80th birthday I want to thank you for a life well lived because you taught me to find peace and happiness in my own way and to appreciate the tastier parts of time we have been given. I find myself savoring the days more and more as I grow older and that is because of you. Happy Birthday Mom!!
With all my love, Susan
P.S. The soup is delicious and I am bringing a containerful down to you tomorrow.