My Momma used to....

trailrunnerbikerDecember 13, 2006

Organic donna pointed out that this forum might be a place where this topic could continue and flourish and draw from the hearts of more forum members. It has been a great source of insight and teary moments and laughter on the "Kitchen" side. I think it belongs where we want it to belong. Certainly there have been wonderful kitchen moments woven into the tapestry of stories that we have all told .

My Momma was always a "meat and potato " cook. It was what my Dad liked and was typical Ohio farm cuisine. She would fix a pot roast with potatoes and carrots and onions , get it started before we went to church and then it would be ready when we got back for Sunday dinner. My Dad never attended church but Momma and I sang in the choir.

I often got out of helping with the dishes by practicing the piano after dinner at night. I was more willing to practice than do any kitchen work. I never cooked anything until I married in 1971. My husband had been on his own for years and was a much better cook than I. I tried making Momma's fried chicken and it was pink and bloody that first time. We laughed and I called her to find out what I had done wrong. We shared many recipes over the years. I have her little red box of receipts as my grandmother called them. When she moved "home" , in with us in August of 2002 after Daddy died, one of her favorite things was our cooking. She loved eating all the different things we cooked vs all the "same" things she had made. She was willing to eat almost anything except cilantro, which she said "tastes like turpentine !!". She loved it that our oldest son is a chef and uses his Grandfather's butcher knife and steel and has his last butcher's apron. Collin makes sausage using his Grandfather's recipe also.

It has been suggested that these memories would make a good book....I have never thought of my self as much of a writer but perhaps as the thread continues I will at least collect all of them.

Here's hoping others will join the "conversation about Momma...". Caroline

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Thank you for bringing this post to the "other side". Now I feel it deserves a response.
My mother died five years ago Dec 26th 2001 of Alzheimers disease. It was a very painful part of my life that carries a treamendous amount of guilt along with it. I cannot think about my mother, it's too painful, and here I am responding to your post.
My mother looked like Lana Turner. She was very glamorous. She did not work outside of the home and was always "there" for us emotionally. My mother was not the kind of person that would greet you at the door wearing an apron with a plate of cookies. I always longed for that kind of mother. I grew up in the fifties and sixties with the invention of convenience foods. My father also was a meat and potatoes kind of guy. Do you remember Betty Crocker's "Noodles Romanoff" and "Au Gratin Potatoes"? Those are the things I grew up eating.
My father died of a heart attack at fifty and after that our home consisted of me (12yrs.) and my mom. From then on it was dinner in front of the T.V. with a fold out tray.
My poor mother was the only widow in our town. Being so beautiful was a drawback. The women wanted my mother to keep her distance from their husbands. I wasn't much company, I was selfish and a spoiled brat. I wish I had the insight then that I have now.
I guess my story of "My Momma used to...isn't a very happy memory for your book.
Even though our life wasn't "Little House on the Prairie", I loved my mother very much, she did her best.

    Bookmark   December 13, 2006 at 12:40PM
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Oh, I love this thread even though it has me sniffling! I am fortunate to have my mom still, she's 75. Wonderful memories though. She's an awesome cook and in the 60's she was a second grade teacher with 3 kids. Every Sunday we'd all troop off to church and afterwards she cooked the most wonderful dinners - the smell of fried chicken is a Sunday smell and I can almost taste it. Picking blackberries for hours on end - neither one of us ever got tired of it - and her blackberry cobbler later - the best of summer. Mamma reading to me. Letting my little sister and me play dress up in her closet and with her jewelry. Mamma could have a picnic or a camping trip ready in 30 minutes after work! She kept the picnic box with all the essentials at the ready. Looking back, she was really organized! My DH would give anything now for mamma's dill pickles; daddy can't garden any more so she doesn't make them. Oh yes, I remember the coke bottle with the sprinkler top too! Mamma making me homemade dresses for the junior high dance - and then me never getting asked to dance... the loving work of it breaks my heart. You can hardly find a photo of mamma without a dog or cat in it. She passed her love of little animals on to me. She has already earned the stars she'll someday have in her crown in heaven by caring for my grandmother daily for years until her death at 100 and now as caregiver for my very disabled daddy. I could go on and on... and I won't even start chatting about grannie because I really will be in tears, god bless her. Thanks for the chance to reflect today, you all got me thinking of such wonderful memories.

    Bookmark   December 13, 2006 at 1:40PM
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donna, I had posted within the other thread that I wondered where the less than "Donna Reed" type Momma's were located our hearts and minds for sure. When and why they come out is the part that can be very hard to cope with. I also posted after a glass or two of wine, that I had many regrets. You are not alone in the selfish department.

This thread, if I am honest with myself, is a way to expiate so many sins . I hear what others are saying and it helps me bring out thoughts and feelings that I have not laid to rest. I was not a good caretaker and not a loving daughter in many ways that I could have been. What really bothers me is that others think I was. I am often complimented for all I did for Momma while she lived with us and while I lived with them during my Dad's last 6 months of life. I was still nursing then and left my home and family and job to move to Florida and take care of him..boy would that be a thread...."my Daddy used to..."

As long as others want to share their thoughts I will participate also. Never think that I am using this thread for any other purpose than a way for myself and others to "hear" what we are feeling. Caroline

    Bookmark   December 13, 2006 at 2:06PM
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I just returned home from a pitcher of margaritas. Ole!
I did not read your post on the kitchen side because I didn't feel I had anything valuable to add. I'm sorry I missed it. I guess I was afraid I would feel left out. I wish you would start a post about "My daddy used I was truly a daddy's girl.
You are a kind and insightful person. I am happy to have you to correspond with on this forum.

    Bookmark   December 13, 2006 at 8:24PM
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Sounds like we both had careers which took us away from making a lot of memories. I wonder what our kids would write. And your last comments poses a further discussion. Did we have a Donna Reed life, no and where were those who did?

Mom and I had very different personalities, she the outgoing, me the quiet. We butted heads for years. It wasn't until my divorce that we became "friends". I put off telling her about the divorce for a year..18 yrs of marriage... feeling it would be the last straw for our relationship. In her true being...she said she had a friend who was married for 50 years and confessed one day that she should have left him when there was still some life to enjoy. She saw my decision as a positive for all and from that day we talked about eveything unsaid for years.

As for regrets, our mother's had them too. As mothers weall learn along the way. What is wonderful about this disucssion is we do remember all the good stuff.

That a lot of deep emotions have evolved is a given...some of which is the season. Am guessing you never thought all of this would happen considering how it first started.

Donna, on the other thread I added my dad..went outside of the lines, he was my hero. Please share...and I want a couple of those margaritas.

Oh, meant to add on the other thread, but am here now. Remembler mangles for ironing sheets and shirts/pants?

    Bookmark   December 14, 2006 at 7:10AM
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Jeesh, I had to use my laptop to write that last post. Sorry about the spelling mistakes....hate the keyboard on the thing. Also hoping this thread will bump up and other's will keep it going.

Odd...the "conversation" option doesn't always show up when in main forum.

    Bookmark   December 15, 2006 at 6:57AM
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emagineer: due to the content we seem to have been allowed to continue in the "Kitchen " side. Participation has been phenomenal. I am determined to keep it going as long as there is interest. Do you know how to print it just in case it does finally dwindle ? My print selection just wants to copy the ad at the top of the page...thanks Caroline

    Bookmark   December 15, 2006 at 9:46AM
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I owe my skill as a cook and baker to my Mom. Her mother never taught her how to cook and when she got married at 26 she had to learn everything. She made herself a promise that if she ever had a daughter she would teach her all she needed to know so she wouldn't be in the same position.

She admits to making a lot of mistakes, which she always told as funny stories. She said my Dad was infinitely patient while she learned to cook. By the time I came along (the last of 5 kids) and could follow her around the kitchen, she was an excellant cook and baker.

She admitted the last time she visited me how I had gone way beyond her in cooking skill. When I am interested in something I want to learn everything about it so I taught myself how to cook a lot of international dishes. But I couldn't have got there without her teaching me the basics. My (twin) sister and I could cook a full meal by the time we were 13 years old. And we were quite good at making cakes and cookies.

She is still going strong at 88 and even bakes occasionally though not as much as she use to do. In summer whenever I bake a pie, especially blueberry or rhubarb, I think of her. And at this time of year when I make gingerbread cookies I always think of her and my sister and the fun we would have making them.

    Bookmark   December 15, 2006 at 5:34PM
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My mom was kind of a loner, she had a few good friends who really loved her, and yet when dad died, mom moved away to a warmer climate. I think she regreted it, but was too stubborn to do anything about it. She kept most folks at an arms length. She was a great cook, tho I think she pretty much taught herself, as she wasn't really raised by her own mother.

I think about mom and how mentally sharp she was, and attractive, and yet not very happy, like she had a chip on her shoulder... As a child I would ask her about her own growing up and she'd try not to tell me, sometimes she say "Oh, I don't remember", and "I'm not going to tell you, anyway, you'll just use it against me." Which is pretty funny, but maybe somewhat true...

She used to scoot us out of the house to play outdoors, and gave us alot of freedom as children, but always reminded us that we had to be responsible. And she trusted us to do the right thing. When we were little she always read to us the story "The Waterbabies, by Charles Kingsley, and I remember by heart a poem she used to read to us, which I'll paste here:

Abou Ben Adhem

ABOU Ben Adhem (may his tribe increase!)
Awoke one night from a deep dream of peace,
And saw, within the moonlight in his room,
Making it rich, and like a lily in bloom,
An Angel writing in a book of gold:

Exceeding peace had made Ben Adhem bold,
And to the Presence in the room he said,
"What writest thou?" The Vision raised its head,
And with a look made of all sweet accord
Answered, "The names of those who love the Lord."

"And is mine one?" said Abou. "Nay, not so,"
Replied the Angel. Abou spoke more low,
But cheerily still; and said, "I pray thee, then,
Write me as one who loves his fellow men."

The Angel wrote, and vanished. The next night
It came again with a great wakening light,
And showed the names whom love of God had blessed,
And, lo! Ben Adhem's name led all the rest!

James Leigh Hunt

    Bookmark   December 16, 2006 at 11:01PM
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trailrunner, I think the easy way to save is "highlight, copy, paste and save in word".

    Bookmark   December 17, 2006 at 8:33AM
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drive me out to the horse farm many afternoons after a full day of teaching/meetings - and always with a smile.

work with Girl Scouts - yay Cannibal Queens with their menu including "Free-toes" corn chips.

work with Vacation Bible School - and taught me as a 3rd grader how to lead games.

help me sing harmony.

paint a shuffle board on the driveway and build a homemade set.

throw killer Halloween parties - remember the peeled grape eyeballs? - and let me have slumberparties.

play grandiose harmonies on the old soft-keyed upright piano.

Thanks for the memories, Mom.

    Bookmark   December 19, 2006 at 9:29PM
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Trail...are you still located in Ohio? I was born there, my fondest memories were from 6 - 10 yrs old on the farm. Some of it written in previous posts in this thread. For a while I lived with another family, I always felt I had a second mom. She taught me to cook, keep house, make my way. Sunday dinners were always the best...yes, those roasts. Gads, Ohio memories of taking milk to the dairy, sliding down the hay in the barn, playing in the stream, selling cantalopes on the road, picking apples in the fall and riding on the trailer the cider mill. It was a wonderful life and taught me so many good things.

    Bookmark   December 20, 2006 at 6:48AM
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That sounds wonderful, you are very lucky to have those memories.

    Bookmark   December 20, 2006 at 8:19AM
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Today would have been her 90th. My dght who is Madeline also , after her grandmother , and I went to get our nails done and hair cut and lunch. Momma loved all those things.

    Bookmark   December 28, 2006 at 2:54PM
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And this from a friend :

My Momma used to enjoy telling funny stories about children. One was about a little girl who received perfume, a pretty dress, and tap shoes on Christmas morning. That evening, her parents entertained friends and relatives. The recipient of Santa's bounty put on her new dress and tap shoes and dabbed perfume all over herself. Then she tapped into the noisy room full of party-goers.
Although she was welcomed with smiles and nods, conversations continued and her new acquisitions went almost unnoticed. Exasperated, she proclaimed loudly to all, "If you see anything, or hear anything, or smell anything, it's me!"

    Bookmark   January 31, 2007 at 11:09AM
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It has been almost a year. The original thread has passed on. Momma would be having her birthday on December 28th. I miss her. Caroline

    Bookmark   December 14, 2007 at 7:47AM
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I remember this distinctly: I was in the 5th grade and listening to records (45s!) in my room when my dad came in. He found a Connie Francis tune, "Lipstick on Your Collar," and on the flip side was "Mama," half in English and half in Italian. He played it and cried. At the time I couldn't understand how he could still feel so deeply saddened when it had been eight years since his mother had passed away. Dad has been gone 23 years now, and it's been 18 years since my mother passed away. I still miss them both with an ache that I can feel. And I have had more than a few of my own tender moments of tears for missing them. And I do so love an opportunity in conversation where I can bring up a memory of one or the other of them.

They were the second generation of Italian immigrants. Both were phenomenal cooks and both had extraordinary capacities for loving. Family was paramount, so it's no surprise that at almost 60 today, my cousins and I are still as close as sisters. We cousins have so many memories going back to childhood of shared events and experiences because our families did so many things together. We laugh and say that we were raised by the "last of the dinosaurs," and it's true!

My parents had such a tender way. There was always a caress or a pat, reaching out to affectionately touch in an ordinary conversation.

Thank you for this chance to let me share.

Trailrunner, I do understand your feeling.

    Bookmark   December 14, 2007 at 10:38AM
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...bake the best biscuits from scratch. I loved watching her make a volcano of flour on the counter top and put the milk and shortening in the top of it. I also loved to watch her put icing on cakes. She made them look so beautiful.

However, my momma couldn't cook meat or veggies well at all! Of course, we didn't have much money, so sometimes dinner was either pinto beans or cornbread in milk (yes, in milk). BTW, my father could make great spaghetti sauce. :-)

I took four years of home economics in high school. I learned to cook meat and potatoes and now cook all kinds of exotic and interesting foods, but I can't bake biscuits or cakes very well! :-)

My mother passed away when she was 51. My dad at 65. I'll be 54 in 2 weeks, so I try to savor every day.

    Bookmark   December 14, 2007 at 6:43PM
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I wish I had kept the other thread current by posting it to this side. It was amazing. Pages amd pages of memories.

Cameron, my Mom never made biscuits from scratch and usually used a cake mix by the time I remember her baking.

I always made my own bread and still do. She wanted to learn how. After she was in her 70's I taught her how and she made breads all the time for her and daddie. I have her recipes now and in them are all the handwritten ones I sent to her.

oofasis : what a great memory. I can smell the spaghetti sauce over here! c

    Bookmark   December 16, 2007 at 9:14AM
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Alexr- I memorized "Abou Ben Adhem" for my 6th grade class because my mom told me SHE had memorized it for school, too!

My parents are in their 80s and now live in Florida after a lifetime in NYC.
I had a typical NYC 1960s childhood- stay at home mom, 4-room apartment, shared a bedroom with my sister, dad worked two jobs. My mom was definitely not a cook. The only vegetable I ever saw came out of a can or a frozen food package. But my mom put a hot meal on the table every night at 6:00pm- mostly red meat and potatoes. She had a regular routine- Monday was steak, Tuesday was spaghetti and meatballs, Wednesday was stew, Thursday was lamb chops, and Friday was chicken, and for special occasions- pot roast!
Saturday was potluck, deli, or Chinese food, and Sunday we visited our grandparents for chicken soup and boiled chicken & mashed potatoes dinner- with a "dumb waiter" in the kitchen!

But my mom was always ready for homework projects- loved to help us with costumes, dioramas, book reports. We always played word games at dinner and danced with my dad after dinner every night- anyone remember the Bossa Nova?
Every Weekend we went on a "show & tell" outing, so my sister and I would have something to share with our class on Monday. We visited every free museum and historic site in the city with our Brownie Starflash camera.
My dad always thought my mom was beautiful. She was a petite red head, and even though she's totally grey now, he still refers to her as the "red head".
My mom has never spent a penny without okaying it with my dad first. And he always tells her to buy whatever she wants, but he likes to see her model the outfits first.

We all watched the one TV in the living room together- I remember seeing The Beatles on Ed Sullivan in 1964!

My dad loved to buy us toys, and my shared bedroom was overflowing with hula hoops, roller skates, Ginny dolls, Barbie dolls, Slinky, Lionel trains, board games, and 45rpm records.
I was a lucky girl!

    Bookmark   December 17, 2007 at 8:52PM
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yes you are . I am so pleased to read your story. I am also glad that the story continues. I can just hear all the love coming from you. Thank you, Caroline

    Bookmark   December 18, 2007 at 6:53PM
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My mother used to...
- throw back seaglass if it wasn't completely buffed, saying, "it's not done"
- barely eat dinner and then "pick" at leftovers in the kitchen
- leave the crust behind when she ate pie
- make scrambled eggs and ham for dinner when Daddy had to work late
- make us eat calf's liver because she thought it was good for us
- peel a Hershey's Kiss faster than anyone I ever knew
- drink Diet Coke and vodka (a splash), truly the most horrid drink I've ever had
- dress our dolls that we left around naked, because she felt bad for them
- dig up flowers from the side of the road to plant in her yard
- manage all the money, taxes, etc. My father didn't know how to write a check until after she got sick.
- tell me how much she adored my father, how she thought he was the most handsome man she ever knew
- tell my sister and I that we should make sure we got an education, so we could take care of ourselves, to never put ourselves in a position where we were dependent on a man. She saw what happened to so many of her friends whose husbands left them, leaving them to struggle.

My mother died when I was 32, 7 1/2 years ago. When she found out she was going to die she asked me to give the eulogy at her funeral, which I did. There wasn't a dry eye in the house. The theme was about the "legacy" she left my sister and I - remembrance, gratitude, thoughtfulness, love of learning, courage, a belief in true love...

After my mother died I asked my Godmother when things would get better (she lost her mother at 17). She told me, "it will get different, but it will never be better. You are never too old to need your mother. My mother has been gone for 40 years and I still miss her everyday". How true.

You are never too old to need your mother.

    Bookmark   December 20, 2007 at 5:32PM
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How wonderful everyone has remembered all the good things about their mom. My my died in 1971. I remember I loved her very much and still cry at the cemetry. A lot of the memories are fadding. All I can say is a mom's wish, my wish, is to have my daughters remember me in a special way.

    Bookmark   December 29, 2007 at 11:41AM
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Wow - this is so interesting. I remember wishing for one of those Donna Reed type moms. I'll just say my father was rather irresponsible so my mother had to work outside the home for as far back as my memory serves me - so we had no Donna Reed or Leave it to Beaver kind of life. She never had an easy life - before or after she married.

I still have the Sunbeam Mixmaster mixer she used when we were kids - which always brings back fond memories of being a kid. I think I was always in on that - helping put things into the bowl and eating the chocolate chips and the cookie dough. I remember her warning not to stick the spatula - or my fingers - into the moving beaters. No need to engineer the mixer to prevent that - just take responsibility for your own actions.

When I was younger and my dad was still at home she made the traditional meat and potatoes kind of meals - I used to love mashed potatoes and gravy. I always hated when I had to hide the canned peas under my mashed potatoes to make it appear that I had "tried" them. In later years after my father had left once and for all we used to do the TV tray thing like Donna mentioned. When we were most financially strapped we had to eat some gawd awful frozen pot pies - yuck - I still shudder at the thought.

My mom had serious problems with alcohol abuse that got worse in her later years. In spite of all her issues (and my fathers) they somehow managed to instill good values in me for which I'm very thankful - a strong work ethic, personal accountability and responsibility, treating others with dignity and respect, etc. I consider it somewhat miraculous that I have a nice life and I'm not all screwed up after all this.

We went through many ups and downs over the years. Fortunately she stopped drinking in her last years and we were relatively close before she died. She was very sharp up to the end at age 84 when 63 years of smoking finally did her in.

    Bookmark   December 29, 2007 at 12:45PM
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