I wasn’t expecting the tsunami of grief that swept over me as I prepared dinner tonight.
Sometimes on the weekend or on our Saturday grocery store run, Hermann Sr. and I will talk about our entrees for the week ahead. We both thought of “Porcupine Meatballs,” a Midwestern favorite my mom used to make with hamburger, rice, tomato soup, egg, and onions rolled up into meatballs.
I didn’t give it another thought until I dug around in my kitchen for my orange plastic recipe box. There under “P” was the recipe filed in my mother’s neat handwriting, the relic of a schoolteacher’s delicate sloops and written curves on paper. She had deliberate handwriting and the recipe is written, just so, as if from another era where housewives looked like June Cleaver, wore dresses, and wrote personal letters on deckled-edge paper with a large initial in the middle.
Seeing my mother’s handwriting blew me away, and reminded me of just how much I miss her physical presence. She left us slowly over a decade, but her sweetness remained. We were so fortunate that her temper seemed to fizzle also and the kindness and goodness stayed.
When she died, it seemed a relief that her suffering was over. The last few weeks of her life brought on great physical changes; she appeared to be suffering. Whether she was or not, we may never know.
In the past 18 months since her death, I’ve found a peace with her passing and a gratitude for what was and thankful that her disease process was not worse.
This doesn’t make me miss her less. I think about her every day, almost always in the happiest of ways. My brother and I are keeping a running list of things she said and did—it is a way to keep her memory alive in our lives.
And sometimes something like the simple, two-fold index card with her writing in what looks like a nineteen cent Bic pen, will move me to sobs. It doesn’t happen every often and it seems to always be the silliest things that will bring it on, but I do miss you, Mom.
I had to put the orange plastic recipe box away for now. It reminds me of a jewel box that a fairy tale queen might keep in a castle, one that opens with a creak to reveal a velvet-lined place that holds a sparkling gem. Yet, the sparkling gems in this orange plastic box are the other recipes by people in my life now gone, my mother-in-law “Impossible Coconut Pie,” my godmother and aunt “Wine Stew,” and my maternal grandmother LeNore, for whom I am named, “Rum Balls.”
I’ll make those treasures another day, and today I’ll leave them inside the orange plastic box which holds treasures and pieces of my heart.