Van and I started packing with a vengeance today. Of course, many things hold memories-a special gift from God. They bring joy, mostly. One of the things I tucked into a box was a notebook titled, A Garden of Memories for Mom, full of poems and stories I wrote in honor of her seventieth birthday. This week marks six months since Mom went home to Jesus. I miss her every day. And since it’s Sunday, I remember our traditional Sunday afternoon dinners, family time. Precious memories and traditions that often get passed on to future generations.
I Remember Mom Cooking the Sauce
I remember every Sunday, Mom poured the tomatoes into the dull, gray pot, and squished them between her fingers. She crushed basil leaves in the palm of her hand, sprinkling them into the tomatoes. Then she shook a few flakes of crushed red pepper, stirred everything together, and covered the sauce with a lid. By the time we left for church, the rich, red sauce bubbled on the stove. As we walked out the door, Mom turned down the blue gas flame so it simmered gently all morning.
I Remember Joe’s Italian Store
I remember every Sunday, we stopped at Joe’s Italian Store on our way home from church. As soon as we opened the door, the aroma of cheese, lasagna, salami, and pepperoni greeted us. We stood and examined the ten cent candy bars, knowing we could each have one. While we chose our treat, Mom talked to Joe. She chose the pasta we took home for dinner and a loaf of unsliced Italian Twist, covered with sesame seeds. Sometimes we needed a pound of Romano cheese, which Joe grated with his big, shiny machine.
“See you next week,” we told Joe on our way out the door.
I Remember Helping Mom
I remember every Sunday, we walked through the back door. Mom dropped the brown bag from Joe’s on the kitchen counter and changed from her Sunday dress before she came back to the kitchen. She lifted the lid of the simmering sauce pot, and the steam filled the whole kitchen with the smell of the red, bubbling sauce. She tasted the sauce, then added meat balls, sausage, spareribs and braciole. Even though she covered the pot again, the smell of the sauce permeated the house for the rest of the afternoon.
I remember every Sunday, Mom asked me to fill the cheese container. If I found the small rectangle of unrated cheese Joe left on top of the white mountain of finely grated Romano, I popped it into my mouth and savored the sharp tang that spread over my tongue. Mom never made me share that deliciousness with anyone else.
I remember every Sunday, Mom called me into the kitchen to help set the table for dinner. She put the pasta of the week–spaghetti, shells, ziti, bow-ties, stove pipes–on a plate and topped it with the thick, red sauce. I carried each plate to the table. Then she filled a huge platter with the meat, and I added a basket of the sliced Italian twist, the salad, and the cheese container. Daddy, Mom, Keith, Robyn, and I sat in our places around the table and bowed our heads. “God is great; God is good; let us thank Him for our food. Amen.”
I Remember Learning from Mom
I remember every Sunday, Mom let us drink Coca-Cola instead of milk. The fizzy bubbles tickled my tongue, throat and nose as I swallowed the sweet, icy cold, brown liquid. I savored every swallow; there wouldn’t be more until the next Sunday.
I ate my Sunday dinner like Mom–pasta first, then we dipped our bread into the sauce still on our plates. Finally we ate salad and meat. Sometimes I’d enjoy a second piece of bread, dipping the crust into the salad bowl to relish the tart vinegar that soaked into the bread.
I remember every Sunday, Mom moved back into the kitchen. She poured any left over sauce into a glass jar and added any left over meat. “It’s good starter for next week,” she said. Then she’d put the pasta she cooked for our German Shepherd, Schatzi, in her bowl. Finally, Mom took some time to rest in the family room with Daddy while Robyn and I finished the dishes.
I remember every day of the week, Mom made us feel loved and special with her delicious meals and loving care.
Family memories hold joy. They shape us and our favorite traditions get passed on to future generations.
What are traditions you cherish? Memories you hold dear?
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