Ponderings from a Procrastinating Prognosticator

Posts Tagged ‘Dad’

MOTHER’S DAY – PART ONE

Posted by samatwitch on May 15, 2012

Yesterday was Mother’s Day – at least in North America.  Twenty-five years ago, I was sharing a ‘picnic’ supper of bread, meat, cheese and fresh strawberries with my mother, (step)father, sister and the man she married the following weekend, in the rooftop garden of St. Paul’s Hospital.  It was the last food my mother ate as she didn’t want to eat anything and actually only had very tiny amounts that night to please my sister and me.  My mother had leukemia, acute myelogenous leukemia, to be exact.  As it turns out, the kind of leukemia my father had died from 35 years before was a subset of AML, although there is no way to know for sure if it was the same strain that just lay dormant in my mother for all that time.

When doctors say ‘acute’, they know of which they speak.  It was seven weeks from the day my mother went in the hospital in Duncan and was tentatively diagnosed with a form of chronic leukemia, until she died in St. Paul’s.  I was lucky, I had a little voice that told me it was going to be seven weeks so I sat down and decided on what I needed/wanted to say to her or things I wanted to share, questions I wanted to ask and, most importantly, what needed to be left unsaid and unsolved but let go.

At the time, I was working on an on-call basis and so I was available every day for at least part of the day and for the final four and a half weeks, I slept and mostly lived at the hospital.  The one thing I could do for her was to type (and I mean on an only semi-correcting typewriter) the final draft of the book she had spent the past few years researching and writing about the women who came to the coast of British Columbia as teachers, nurses, missionaries and helpmates to their husbands.  They Also Came is the title and she spent many hours interviewing women or their families about the lives of some of these brave women.  One of her close friends who was included in the book insisted that my mother should also have a chapter as she and Dad plied the waters of the Pacific Northwest on the Thomas Crosby V, the United Church mission boat that visited lighthouses, fishing villages, and isolated people on the coast.

My mother didn’t live to see her book in print but she did know it had gone to the printer.  All the money raised went to the Crosby mission fund to support the ship’s journey up and down the coast.  Right to the end – and beyond – my mother was giving.  She died as she had lived, with dignity and courage and love for her family.

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Posted in Personal, Writing - Non-fiction | Tagged: , , , , , , , | 2 Comments »

HOW I CAME TO LIKE SOUP

Posted by samatwitch on November 25, 2011

Growing up I was not fond of soup.  We had Campbell’s Cream soups on occasion – or tomato, which always seemed to burn my throat – and my mother would make turkey soup after Easter, Thanksgiving and New Year’s.  (We went to friends for Christmas dinner and then their whole family came to our home for New Year’s dinner.)  She also would make vegetable beef soup on occasion.  The latter two were okay, but soup for soup’s sake was not for me.

After my parents retired in the southern part of the province, their garden was able to grow vegetables that were not so successful where I grew up and Mum started making all kinds of soups from scratch.  She finally learned not to serve them when I was visiting because I still didn’t like them.

Some years later, after my mother died and my Dad came to live in a care home in my city, I had lunch with him at least once a week, for thirteen years, and every day the care home served soup at lunch.  Occasionally I would have a bowl – if it wasn’t a cream soup or related to clams or mushrooms – but I finally just politely declined.

Oh, I made turkey broth to freeze after holiday dinners and a couple of times when I had dental work I used Campbell’s Cheddar Cheese soup as a base, adding steamed broccoli or cauliflower, dry mustard, milk and more cheese and then pureeing so I could get protein and vegetables when I couldn’t chew, but I still didn’t like soup as a dish, unless it was a really good wonton soup.

My neighbours across the street once made me an Absolutely Incredible Spicy Sour Soup with Garlic – originally vegan but I always add chicken or turkey – which I did make once or twice.  Thick and delicious, it also freezes well.

Then, a few years ago I had a garden by my apartment and had an over abundance of zucchini and many tomatoes. We also grew onions, garlic and basil, among other things (such as turnips, peas, snow peas, carrots and beets).  Trying to find a recipe where I could use the zucchini and tomatoes together, I came across one for a soup.  It sounded good.  (I don’t know why since I’m not fond of zucchini on its own and as I mentioned, tomato soup always stung my throat.)  I decided to try it.

It was delicious! I gave some to my neighbour who shared the garden and who is involved in writing for restaurant magazines and he loved it.  I’ve shared the recipe with others and everyone seems to enjoy it.  Of course, even with all the changes I’ve made to the original recipe over the years, it probably has never tasted as good as the first time when all the ingredients came out of my own garden, but it is still my favourite soup and I usually make it several times a year.

Suddenly I was looking for soup recipes everywhere: online, in my many cookbooks, in magazines, from friends.  I make curried carrot soup, roasted curried butternut squash soup, black bean soup, Tex-Mex soup – I’ve even made gazpacho a couple of times.  I still don’t like mushrooms (my friends call me anti-fungi!) or seafood in my soup unless it is Chinese hot and sour, but I have soup recipes bursting out of my recipe box, crying out to be the next one to be made.   What has happened to me and where will it all end??

 

 

Posted in Food, Personal | Tagged: , , , , , , , | 4 Comments »