WHIDBEY RECIPES: Missing Mom

The first time I ever remember missing my mother was about a week after she had deposited me and my paraphernalia in a dorm room, said goodbye, and left me to begin my first year at college.

The first time I ever remember missing my mother was about a week after she had deposited me and my paraphernalia in a dorm room, said goodbye, and left me to begin my first year at college.

I’d been away from home before, on many overnights, two or three visits to cousins that lasted four or five days, and just that past summer, I’d spent a marvelous, magical month in Santa Monica with an aunt and uncle. I considered myself free of the maternal strings and glad of it.

I was, therefore, not prepared for the overwhelming wave of homesickness that hit me when I called home at the end of that first week and heard her voice. I missed my Mom, and it was a big surprise, as we’d not been getting along well during most of my high school years and I’d been looking forward to “leaving home.”

It happened again the first time

I called her after my new husband and I returned from our honeymoon.

For months, she’d been so involved in my wedding plans, showers, dress buying, caterers, reception arrangements, that our conversations, when we had any, were of nothing but that.

I went off to work every day, glad to leave her to it. She’d been married quietly, before a justice of the peace in a very small ceremony, and it quickly became obvious to me that she meant for me to have a wedding with “the works.” I didn’t mind; I’m not good at organizing that sort of thing anyway.

So, I called her the day new hubby and I arrived at our brand-new apartment, piled high with boxes of wedding gifts, but no furniture.

I was an excited, new bride/soon-to-be-homemaker and I just wanted to let her know we appreciated them hauling everything to our new home.

When I heard her voice on the other end of the line, tears began and I could barely speak to her. She thought something awful had happened, of course, and it took a few minutes to straighten things out, but I was inwardly shocked at how much I missed her and how much our relationship had changed without my realizing it.

Every week after that, barring times when we were traveling, I called my Mom on Sunday, just to “catch up,” make sure all was OK with them, and fill her in on any news with us.

She was the first person I called when our son was born on Christmas Eve and our daughter, her namesake, three years later, on a chilly September morning. And, she was the first person I called when that marriage she’d worked so hard to get started broke apart 22 years later.

If it happened that I went to bed on Sunday night and hadn’t called Mom, I felt how much I missed speaking to her that weekend and called Monday evening instead.

I miss her now, even though she left us all behind almost three years ago, just short of her 98th birthday. You’d think I’d be used to her absence by now, but there are many, many days when I see some special little thing, or hear an interesting tidbit, and find myself thinking, “I’ve got to remember to tell Mom about that,” only to catch myself up and realize I can’t pick up the phone and give her a call.

Most of all, though, I miss my Mom when I’m cooking. So many recipes were hers, so many special dishes associated with times we were together in the kitchen at family gatherings.

Many of her grandchildren and a few great-grandchildren associate some favorite dish with Grammie Jo, and always ask “Who’s bringing Grammie’s (whatever the dish is)?” when we get together. Her handwriting pops out of so many of my cookbooks, and there she is, looking over my shoulder as I stir.

Sunday is Mother’s Day, my third Mother’s Day without her. I miss my Mom.

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