June 30, 2010

gifts from the kitchen are gifts from the heart.

I've always been a firm believer that if you feed someone's belly you also feed their soul. My mother always filled me up with the most delicious food growing up. From her great Charlie Brown Cookies to her savory Chicken and Waffles {made with gravy, not syrup, the Pennsylvania Dutch way}, I was always filled to the brim with love and good food. I miss my mother's cooking, almost as much as I miss her.

When I first moved here to Alabama and started working for my current job/company. I befriended one of our customers quickly. She is an amazing woman who currently runs a therapy center for children who are dealing with the loss of a loved one. It's an amazing concept and charity. Children helping other children cope with the loss of someone dear to their heart. Even before losing my mother I'd get a bit misty eyed putting together their brochures or print projects. My heart ached for these young children, I couldn't imagine what they were going through. Equally as amazing they also hold sessions at the center for teens and adults coping with the same issues. Usually the classes are for parents/ of the legal guardians of the children coping with death, but they also have help sessions for older family members that need a way to vent. I always thought this would be particularly important for a parent who was left alone as a single parent.

After the passing of my mother I often thought about going to this center and volunteering my time. I thought for sure this would be the way to help me work through my own issues with loss, but I also feared it might make things worse. Not for me personally, but for the children. I worried that me not giving 100% of my heart into this because it was still broken would hinder the children I worked with and their progress. This feeling lasted for two years. This is how long it's been since my mother passed away. I still have bad days, I'm sure I always will but for the first time, in a long time I can speak of my mother with a smile and not get too choked up and start to cry. I've also finally crossed over to being able to listen to Jimmy Buffett (her favorite), and Ozzy Osborne's "Momma I'm Coming Home" without breaking down.  My mother was a wonderful woman and deserves ever ounce of praise she receives. I always beam when Mike speaks of her and his initial meeting with her as well as other meetings they had while she was still with us. He recalls her fondly and it feels so good knowing others that share my thoughts on my mom. Now that I feel better I often contemplate going to help out not only these children but also the wonderful woman, K who runs the center.

K is the most special and most kind and giving, as well as selfless person I've ever met. She's always smiling and telling jokes and making your heart feel whole and warm. I've never experienced such a consistently thankful soul. I've never had an interaction with her that didn't involve a big hug.

Today much like other days K came bearing hugs, jokes and a gift. She often times brings me a little something just to say she is thankful for all my help with her center (I design a lot of items and we print a lot for her). Usually it's a small bag of chocolate, or often times a few fun sized candy bars. Other times it's a small little stuffed animal. I currently keep a cute little tie-dyed beanie bear on my desk complete with a rainbow peace sign that she gave me shortly before my mom passed. It reminds me that even in your lowest hour there is good out there and it makes me smile.  Today's gift was awesome, K brought me some of her husbands homemade pickles. I love homemade gifts. I often dream of my grandmother's sweet pickles, they were amazing and for years her pickles the ONLY type of pickle I would eat. Dills be damned it was all about Gram's sweet pickles!  Word on the street here is that K's husbands pickles are amazing so I can't wait to get home and try them.

I also received some fresh cucumbers from a co-worker who's garden is blooming in full force and Mike also received a huge zucchini from his office manager. We started our own garden this spring so we could feel better about all the produce we hoped to purchase and eat, we wanted to go green, buy local and eat better. But getting bounty from others is such a heart warming treat, and a great way to continue this trend we started.

I hope to one day learn to make my own pickles, jams, relish, or other goods but for now I'll enjoy eating the fruits of someone else's labor and smiling at my fully belly and completely happy heart.

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freckleonthenose said...

Helping those children is such a beautiful thing! I lost my dad two years ago and I know how hard it was as an adult. A [minor] child losing a parent is almost too sad to think about.

You and K are doing a wonderful thing. :)

Carly Anne said...

One of the best gifts is fresh produce from a home garden. I used to work for a woman who brought me tomatoes, zucchini and eggplant from June through August. It was heaven.


All this is Grace and Charm

Amanda said...

This is a beautiful post. I agree with you...giving someone something you made with your hands and heart, that can fiill up their bellies, is the best! Anything homemade, actually. Your Momma sounds like she was an amazing person!

SurferWife said...

Really off topic but... I want feedback from a pickle lover.

(None of us in our fam are)

At our fair they had chocolate dipped pickles. This makes me need to gag and barf a lot.

But does it sound appealing to you?

Allyson said...

I think it's such a blessing that your mom met M before she passed. There have been so many days that I wish Papa had met Neal. They would have hit it off instantly, I just know. I know you miss your mom and you always will. There are good days and bad days and it will always be like that. I have them, too. Sometimes I like to think that the "village" that's raising Shep includes people like your mom and my grandparents. Everyone is up there, teaching him different things about the world. He's going to be so well-rounded when I finally join him!

As for the veggies, maybe you can post what you end up doing with them? I am in need of some yummy summer recipes that don't include mayonnaise (as much as I love those). AND...can you believe it...right when we move out of our house, we got huge bunches of grapes on our grapevine!! Oh well. Maybe the new owners will love them, too!

Kelly @ Dare to be Domestic said...

Allyson that's a great idea! I will get to pondering some tasty and healthier treats!

Monique that sounds HORRIBLE! I love chocolate and I love pickles but not together! NOW.. I will say deep fried pickles aren't too bad but I prefer really cool and crisp fresh out of the fridge pickles.

She was Amanda thank you for saying so.

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