Piece Meal Stories of Jack and Maggie, Part 2

MEALS AFTER THE UNION VILLA

I left home when my parents still had the Union Villa and lived with my brother and sister-in-law for about nine months, in Washington State. I had always been a picky eater, but my brother would not have it. He was the first person to ever say to me, if you don’t like supper, the next meal is breakfast. I learned to eat vegetables I thought I hated, and salads. (salad dressing helped!) When I went home, I moved into my own apartment at 19. My meals consisted of living out of large cans of beefaroni, or some similar food. So much so, that I was thrilled to have Sunday dinner at my parents’ house.

Fast forward several years, although I do not think it was a coordinated plan, mom did several things to encourage my cooking. She bought me special gifts useful for entertaining and special meals. She helped me buy my coveted set of Lenox China, one place setting at a time. The last gift she gave me was a marble rolling pin. I think my favorite memory is of her reading me recipes out of the women’s magazines. “Oh, Michele, listen to this! Doesn’t this sound delicious?”

This, for me, is an important connection. When I was married the first time and making meals for myself and my husband, I already had the deeply imbedded habit of setting my sights on a picture or a recipe, and trying to duplicate it. Especially as a new cook. Much to my surprise, with all the things I have lost in 70 years, I still have a copy of the first meatloaf recipe I made as a bride. I had found it in a woman’s magazine, and there was a picture. It was the first thing I remember making and being bolstered by the compliments. (It was a mushroom stuffed meatloaf). But I probably would not have tried it without the picture.

Picture of a table with chairs, place settings, china cabinet in the background
Photo by Jean van der Meulen from Pexels

When mom and her sister were older, and both widowed, they would come to our house for special holiday meals. I always made some kind of roast, because in general it was not something they would not make for themselves. I suppose I took as much joy in making those meals for mom and Aunt Cassie, as mom had taken cooking for us. I wanted each meal to be special and I was keenly aware this was a time limited opportunity.

It wasn’t just the holiday meals or the family meals that I remember but countless shopping trips with my mom that always involved lunch. Whether we were at home in Massachusetts or when we both lived in Baltimore, or mom and Aunt Cassie picking me up for lunch from work every Friday. They had a routine, Daily mass, breakfast at Dunkin Donuts, bowling and then meeting me for lunch. If the details of all these meals are lost swirling around in the gray matter in my brain, the love they represent is firmly lodged in my heart. I would joke on those Fridays, that it was “old lady lunch day” Knowing how keenly I would come to miss those opportunities.

MY FAVORITE MEAL: CHRISTMAS DINNER AT MOM’S

During the years that I was a single parent, my children spent every other Christmas with me, and the alternate Christmas’ sometimes with their dad, sometimes not, but always at their Grandparents’ home in Virginia. One year stands out particularly, the children had been picked up and I was home alone. I made fruitcakes for my mom and Aunt Cassie and then drove to mom’s apartment. She lived in an efficiency apartment in a senior citizen’s building, it was “assisted living”

The “living room/dining room/kitchen” combination held a couch, chair a folding table and a china closet. The folding table was a wooden dropleaf table with a compartment for four uncomfortable folding chairs. The table was covered with one of the embroidered tablecloths that dad had brought from Italy. It was dressed in her Noritake China, and sterling silver flatware. There were glasses holding shrimp and shrimp cocktail set at each place. Red taper candles were in the silver candlesticks. The shrimp were followed by standing rib roast, spinach soufflé and long grain and wild rice, all her favorites and specialty. She had made a rich chocolate pudding for dessert. The meal lovely and an unforgettable gift of love.

Photo by Liza Summer from Pexels

Mom did not buy china dishes until later in life, but the sterling silver was her pride and joy. She bought it one piece at a time in her twenties and when she and my dad got married, asked for pieces or place settings for wedding presents. I do not remember having any special plates, I remember her taking the wooden chest out of the buffet dresser that was in our dining room. The chest was lined in blue velvet, and filled with her precious treasures. Today, in 2022, it is hard to imagine someone buying just one spoon, or one fork and being excited about it, but before getting any pieces for wedding presents, that is how mom got her silver. It was a simple, if material joy, paid for in cash.

As I finish up this post, I am working very hard, rearranging my posessions, giving things away, setting things aside for a yard sale, donations to the library, preparing for full retirement, but that wooden chest with the silver remains. Perhaps it is my age, but thoughts of my parents are never far from me. Meals at the Union Villa were rushed by necessity, but remembering our first home, or family meals in the apartment at the Union Villa when the bar was closed, these two statements made by my father ring clear and present. After we said the traditional blessing before the meal, he would remind us, “God bless the provider of this table” (meaning himself), and after eating, he would push his chair back from the table and say to my mom, “My dear, I have dined sufficiently.”

I am so grateful for all the memorable meals, thankful for the cook and the provider and the joy.

Not holding back the tide,

Michele

Copyright 2020-2024 Michele Somerville, The Beach Girl Chronicles and https://msomervillesite.WordPress.com

Published by msomerville2014

About: Michele Somerville is a wife, mother, stepmother, grandmother, sister, aunt, cousin and friend. She lives with her husband and their dog Sheba. Sheba is their fourth rescue dog in 30 years. She is a retired ordained United Methodist Elder and serves two churches part-time in North Central Pennsylvania. She obtained her Bachelors’ Degree in 1999 from Mansfield University and her Master of Divinity in 2004 and Doctor of Ministry in 2016, both from Colgate Rochester Crozer Divinity School in Rochester, New York. My Doctor of Ministry Thesis was:” Prophetic Words of Grace: Biblical Storytelling in the Local Church.” Michele began writing and performing character monologues for worship in 2008. She began by asking the question about nameless characters in the Bible, “What would they say if they could speak for themselves?” and then using her theological education and experience of the human condition to attempt an answer that is both academic and creative. Much of what you will read here are memories from growing up in a tourist town, in a bar, in the 1960’s, shaggy dog stories about our rescue dogs, life in a small town, and stories of faith and hope. Throughout her life she has lived in many states, including small towns, large towns and cities. She lived in Rota, Spain, for nine challenging months. Despite all the places she have lived since moving away from home in 1970,Michele is at the heart of all things Jack and Maggie’s daughter, and a beach girl from Onset, Massachusetts.

14 thoughts on “Piece Meal Stories of Jack and Maggie, Part 2

  1. Hi Michele – what lovely memories to have. My mum was a very ordinary cook (that’s a compliment as far as her cooking skills went!) So I have no great memories of family meals. I’ve never really appreciated food for anything other than an opportunity to sit together and enjoy each others company. Your dad’s second comment reminded me of my grandfather – he used to say “I’ve had ample sufficiency” – thanks for the lovely reminder.

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  2. Thanks so much Leanne, first thing I have posted since April 29th. I have some posts that need editing, but my official second retirement day is in 10 days! Still wrapping up some things, one last sermon and service to go. Thanks for sharing, i love what your dad said! Thanks for taking the time to read and comment. blessings, Michele

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  3. I loved reading about the memories you have of your mom. I remember lunches with my mom too. Even after she had a stroke and was in a memory care unit of a nursing home, some days I would break her out and we would go to the local watering hole for lunch. That lunch always included a Bloody Mary for her.

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      1. I am doing well, thank you. I thought of you last week as I ran on the canal path near Bourne. We were visiting my sister and brother-in-law. Glad to hear you will soon join the ranks of the retired. Although I loved my job, retirement is the best!

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  4. Oh Michele, I so enjoyed this blog. What special memories, what special meals. I have “good” dishes (a few) I seldom get out as cleaning for company usually leaves me out of time to climb high to retrieve my “good dishes” from their home on hard to reach shelves. Your stories inspire me to make more of an effort. Thank you and God be with you as you move into retirement. Ruby

    Liked by 1 person

  5. I enjoyed this very much, Michelle. meals were important in our family too. It is when we discussed the day’s events and made plans. Mom was a great cook and was willing to try new recipes she found in magazines. Her baking was amazing. I have some of her recipes and enjoy making them.

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    1. Sounds like wonderful memories. Thank you for taking the time to read and comment. I am trying to get back into the swing and timing. Retiring next week, tomorrow is my last service as a Pastor of a church. Pretty sure there will be preaching and teaching in my future, but not in the same way. Taking a breather, and hoping for more time to write. Blessings, Michele

      Liked by 1 person

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