How do you write about the goodness of your loving Mother? About how much she’s missed and how memories of her are so greatly cherished each Mother’s Day? Especially when you’re given a set space and limited wordage in which to accomplish it?
Even though she's been gone for nearly five years, if you love your Mom as much as I did, and I’m sure you do, it just doesn’t seem possible. Instead of a half page, I’d need one and a half; possibly two.
Giving life to eleven children, none of them turning out badly (although the jury’s still out on yours truly), that alone should be enough to smother her with gratitude and a heart full of love.
One of my fondest memories of Mom is her singing songs to us that she learned as a young girl. Songs such as Blue Skies, New River Train, Buttons ‘N’ Bows, Don’t Fence Me In, We Three Bums, Easter Parade, Lavender Blue, and wonderful spiritual hymns such as Church In The Valley, Old Rugged Cross, Amazing Grace, Bells of St. Mary’s and I Come To The Garden.
But her favorites were Irish tunes. She’d sing us Galway Bay, McNamara’s Band, Danny Boy, Clancy Lowered The Boom, Four Leaf Clover, Harrigan, Irish Lullaby, Molly Malone, When Irish Eyes Are Smilin’, My Wild Irish Rose, Peg O’ My Heart, The Band Played On and her all time favorite, You Are My Sunshine.
Sitting on her rockin’ chair on the back porch, under a huge maple tree she'd sing. We had a small Arvin table radio at the time, but no television. Nevertheless, Mom singing to us was our form of entertainment and I truly thought she believed it, too.
Mom would put two or three of the smallest kids on her knees, while we older ones sat on the porch step holding other young ones, singing to our heart’s content and loving every minute. She’d teach us accompanying lyrics and the harmonies, and after each song we’d all dream of hitting it big on the Hit Parade with a special song.
But singing wasn’t her only talent. Mom had home cooking down to an culinary art. Never bothering with measuring spoons, she used the pinch/dab system. That is, a pinch of this, a handful of that and a dab of the third; and it came out perfect every time. Her soups, especially her chicken rice soup, were outstanding and her rice and bread puddings were especially loved. But my all-time favorite dish was her homemade Pennsylvania Dutch Chicken Pot Pie. It was boiled, not baked and it’s unlike any pot pie you’ve ever eaten. But once you tasted it, you’d never forget it.
She had the knack for cooking a round steak so tender it would break apart with the light touch of a fork. And her steak gravy was so tasty it could have been marketed. But it was her fruit pies that set her apart from all the other cooks who were, for the most part, Pennsylvania Dutch women.
No one could touch her Dutch apple or lattice apple pie, And her pumpkin pie tasted so heavenly you’d be tempted to pray that every day was Thanksgiving. She made the very best raisin pie I’ve ever eaten. And no one, absolutely no one, could come any where near her delicious lattice top sour cherry pie. Served still warm right out of the oven, if she’s making them in Heaven, I’m going to change my ways in a hurry.
As a tribute to my Mom, and to ensure her immortality, I’m in the process of putting together a recipe cook book of her favorite dishes, including her pies. If for no other reason, at least they’ll be preserved for posterity.
To all those wonderful mothers reading this, Happy Mother’s Day.
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