Tuesday, May 12, 2020

Slice of Life #52 Stories 21/52: Memories and Heirlooms and Food, Oh My!

I'm attempting to write 52 stories from my life during the year 2020. At least one story a week, in no particular order, to remember and document some of the memories and moments of my life

We've had one other sibling Zoom gathering during this time of pandemic. I planned this one for Mother's Day and told, I mean asked (there's a reason they call me Bossy Mona) everyone to bring a memory and/or an artifact that reminded them of Mom. I have no idea when we last spent a Mother's Day together (this marks our 29th year since Mom died), but our gathering was a delight from beginning to end.

I tried very hard to keep everyone on schedule by keeping an eye on my watch and giving each sibling approximately ten minutes since we only had 40 minutes together (the Zoom time limit). 

We started with the eldest, our brother-in-law Tom, who related the story of the first time he was invited to Sunday dinner at our home. He remembered that Mom made meat loaf and that it was delicious (no surprise there, our mom was an excellent cook). My sister, Kay, commented that Betty Morrison and Bonnie Blamires had encouraged Velma to invite Tom over for Sunday dinner. And Tom remembered that Kay had given the two and a half minute talk in  Sunday School on that particular Sunday. 

Kay showed us a tablecloth that Mom embroidered almost eighty years ago for their first home in Lawton, Oklahoma .
And then she showed us two other items crafted by Mom for the Relief Society bazaars held at our church each year. One was a turquoise pincushion and the other was a felt bookmark, in the shape of a mitten with a hair clip inside to clip to the page where you stopped reading. These were always decorated with sequins. Kay commented that these two small items made her think of all the service and hours that Mom dedicated to serving in the Relief Society of our church. 

Karl showed us a green cake stand. 
We never wanted a store bought cake because our mom made delicious birthday cakes that were beautiful too. 

Karl then related the story of the one thing Mom had wanted his wife, Kathy, to receive. It was her Bosch mixer, something that Mom had always wanted and that she purchased with money she inherited from Aunt Becky.  Karl commented that when Kathy received the mixer, she probably didn't consider herself a great baker, but that she certainly fits that description today! Kathy  eventually replaced the Bosch with a Kitchen Aid, but daughter Kara is now using her grandmother's Bosch mixer. 

I shared a tin from Fort Sill that Mom kept filled with thread for her many creative endeavors.
She regularly embroidered pillow cases for wedding gifts. Once the supper dishes were washed and the kitchen floor swept, Mom could always be found sitting with some project or another in her lap as a way to wind down from another busy day. I still have the set of pillowcases she gave me as a joke one year, embroidered with the words "mine" and "mine." (She wasn't sure that I would ever get married.) Eventually this tin became the repository for memorabilia that Mom gathered, but I remember it best for being filled with skeins of colorful embroidery thread. 

When I looked at the items inside the tin, I found this eighty year old Mother's Day card sent by Dad to his mother in 1940.
There's no special message other than the one provided inside the mass-produced card, but Dad's signature under the words, "Your soldier son," is unmistakably his. And a three cent Thomas Jefferson stamp carried this card from Columbus, Georgia to Ringling, Oklahoma.

I glanced at the clock and saw that we had enough time remaining for Tom to show us the chest that Daddy made for Mama while he was in England during the war. 
Our dad was older than most of the enlisted men he served with during World War II. As a staunch Baptist with a wife and daughter back home, drinking and carousing in town were never an attraction for his leave time. He befriended a family in England and would go to their farm where he would help with odd jobs and do carpentry work, having learned this skill from his father, Andrew T. Scifres. He built this wooden chest at their farm and shipped it to Mom for their third anniversary in 1944. It's where Mom kept the letters Dad sent her during the war. Even as a child, I loved seeing my mother's name, Lillian, that my dad had lovingly carved into the top of the chest.
And it went to our oldest sister, Velma, who was the daughter at home with our mother during World War II.

I kept an eye on the clock, but there was no countdown posted from Zoom. So we kept talking. I shared what I ordered from Cactus, a favorite restaurant, for my Mother's Day meal. Daughter Sara delivered it to us on Saturday evening. My husband ordered chicken fajitas and I ordered a butternut squash enchilada. My brother quipped, "Either that's a waste of a good squash or a waste of a good enchilada, maybe both." 

And so we moved on to talk about favorite dishes Mom made . . . 
fried chicken, biscuits and gravy, pot roast with potatoes and carrots, salmon croquettes, homemade canned apples, and blackberry cobbler. Here are a few more I've remembered while writing this post: vegetable beef stew (that's what Mom usually had on the burner when we came home from college for the weekend) and cornbread, pinto beans with ham hock, and chicken and dumplings. 

My oldest sister, Velma, has dementia and while she didn't say much, I loved noticing her watching the screen and relishing the opportunity to speak to her. Near the end of our conversation, she said, "I'm going to have trouble eating." Maybe she thought we were going to eat all those good dishes our mom made at the same meal. And my favorite thing she said? It was when she leaned in to the computer screen and queried, "Are we going to be okay?" I reassured her, "Yes, we will be okay." And these five words, "Yes, we will be okay," continue to comfort me during this time of pandemic.

Interestingly enough, Zoom never notified us that we had to stop at 45 minutes. Our gathering to celebrate Mom continued for an hour and a half. I like to think it was a gift of time given to all who gathered on Mother's Day 2020. Thanks, Zoom!

1 comment:

  1. Ramona, you had a very special gathering on Mother's Day. I loved everything about it and found similarities. My Mother was an excellent baker, inherited from my Nonnie, She always baked cakes for everyone's birthday so we also didn't go to bakeries for cakes.I hope your new grandbaby was at the gathering so all the relatives could be wowed by her.