Jun
13

Stories from Around Mom’s Table

By

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Life is replete with beginnings and endings. Chapters begin and chapters close. And for me, beginnings and endings were marked and chapters were written as I sat around my mother’s dining room table.

Mornings often began around that table in my family.

When I awakened on weekday mornings, my parents were sitting at that table drinking coffee and looking out the sliding glass door onto the pasture land, watching the cattle graze. I used to wonder why they wasted all that time, getting up so much earlier than they had to.  My older, wiser perspective now understands the time spent awakening and talking and allowing coffee and conversation to do their rousing work.

Later Dad would be off to some sort of work and my brother and I would each pull up a chair and enjoy our breakfast of choice. My pancakes and Mike’s oatmeal seemed no bother for my mom. I never remember her complaining about cooking whatever we both asked for. Seemingly effortlessly, food appeared on the table.

Now I am quite sure I didn’t really appreciate what that meant. Dirty dishes and pots and pans to be washed. The time it took. The energy.

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Although my brother and I worked a lot in the yard and on the farm and in our chicken houses, Mom didn’t really allow us into her kitchen. It was her domain. Cooking was an expression of her love for us and food was served from that table.

Some of my dearest growing up memories are of nights filled with laughter as aunts and uncles and cousins often gathered around that table for food and a game of Rook .

Our family of four turned into six as my brother and I both married and Mom cooked for us all.

Mike with Elliott

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

During the days that my sister-in-law and I car-pooled an hour away to college, Mom cooked so that dinner would be ready when we all got home. That was quite a bonus for us all because if you had to choose between our cooking and Mom’s cooking, well, there was no choice.

I can still smell the fried squash and taste the purple hull peas. I’ve never been able to match my mom’s cooking skills. Even now, I can smell her cornbread, dumped upside down onto a plate straight out of the iron skillet and served hot alongside vegetables or split open to add butter or crumbled into buttermilk.

 

Dad’s favorite was her fried chicken with biscuits and gravy.

As our family grew to give Mom six grandchildren, her cooking offered something for all.

If she knew you liked a particular dish, you’d be guaranteed that dish if she knew ahead of time that you were coming. Fried okra for my daughter, Kara Beth.  Chocolate chip cookies for all the grandkids. Even Mom’s extended family got in on the food.  Red Velvet Cake for my cousin Gary.  Her church family and community were also recipients of Mom’s cooking.

And there was always ice cream. You would never get in and out of Mom’s house without an offer of a bowl of chocolate or Neapolitan ice cream. 2015-06-13 14.33.34

 

 

 

 

 

 

The running family joke throughout  the years became that you might as well go ahead and say yes the first time Mom offered you sweet tea or a Coke or ice cream because she was not going to relent until your partook.

I vividly remember the moment I realized Alzheimer’s had stolen Mom’s ability to cook. I felt this intense grief over the recipes I’d never know, the calls to ask Mom for cooking advice that were no longer possible. When she no longer knew how to cook, I’d just ask her to stir something in a pot to make her feel a part but eventually, even that became confusing.

In the last year of her life, when I’d visit her in assisted living, she’d smile and tell me that they’d been cooking all morning.

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When she left this world to be and moved to heaven, I began the work of cleaning out her home. Memories often brought me to tears. Emotions welled up in my chest and filled me with pain.

I found so many cookbooks and notebooks full of recipes and recipes on random pieces of paper in her kitchen and dining room. Mom’s handwritten notes were everywhere.

Try this.

Good.

Mikki’s recipe.

 Recipes told the story of my growing up memories.

Lee Anna’s Teacakes.  

Aud’s Beef Hash.

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My daughter and niece’s handwriting told the stories of recipes they’d made with Mom.

The process of selling Mom’s home and cleaning it out overwhelmed me so when my niece, Whitney, suggested we all gather around that table one more time, I didn’t know if I could do it. Kara Beth helped by suggesting we all share a light-hearted story that we remembered. Laughter and tears were healing for us all.

Kara Beth recounted one day when she brought her husband, Dave, to visit Mom and failed to offer him some food and drink when they got to Mom’s house. Mom got Kara Beth off in the kitchen and lectured her, “Now, you’ve got a good man there and you need to get him some food.” 2015-06-13 14.29.19

 

 

 

 

 

 

In those last days of talking about cleaning out the house, one thing became clear. I would not be getting rid of that kitchen table. The strongest emotional responses from the grandkids came about the table. “You have to keep the table.” “We had so many meals around that table.” “That table is the center of so many of my memories.”

And while I know that it is not the table itself that is so valuable, but the love that table represents. The love that touched everyone Mom cared about through the giving of her time and energy and the food she offered us all. We continue to feed our souls from Mom's table and I'm pretty sure she is cooking some pipin' hot cornbread even now.
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Categories : Change, family, grief, Motherhood

Comments

  1. Joyce mclamb says:

    Loved this Mikki, I still have not gone through my moms house. Like you the house is mine, but everything still lies as it did the day she left…. My dad is 98, he is still there, but I still can’t bring myself to remove her things..I think he likes them being around. Thank God for his undying mercy and grace…without it, I’d be nothing!

  2. Nancy Conway says:

    Mikki,  Thank you for letting me experience your life and as a result feel I know you some what even though I don't really but I would like to.  Transparency is so important in this day and time we live.  Pastor Doc knows me, I used to go to Christ Chaple and was a student in the first year of The School of The Spirit.   It was awsome!!  I hate I missed out on the prophetic classes that are just finishing up.  I hope there will be more.   I'm also good friends with Shawn Mitchell,  She sings your praises. Says you are a very gifted counslor.  I have been in Athens and out of the Florence loop. I think God may be changing that 🙂  Sis in The Name Of The Lord, Nancy 

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