Maemae’s Special Ingredient

English: Own Camera
Mama could even add her special ingredient to frozen macaroni and cheese.  She was just that good.  English: Own Camera (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Every third Saturday the men of Trinity UMC have a Men’s Breakfast.  What a great group of folks, so welcoming, and you can tell they really, really enjoy being together.  As a matter of fact, if you are male of any age, you should head on out and join them next month.  I know you’d be welcome, because this morning they were so gracious to me.

I suppose I was already a bit sentimental.  This was Mama’s church.  She went every Sunday she was felt up to it and attended two Sunday services and Sunday School in between.  She loved her Sundays at Trinity.  The good people there took her under their wings and gave her sanctuary, a place to mourn and heal in the fifteen months after Daddy died.  They were there for us, her children, after she died and we started our own journeys of mourning and healing all over again.  Good people, I tell you what.

I parked and went into the building where Mama attended the second service each Sunday.  I was greeted by one gentleman who welcomed me in and took me to meet the person who had invited me to speak.  I had been asked to come and share about one of my favorite places ever–Bare Bulb Coffee.

The men there made me feel right at home and shared their breakfast of sausage and biscuits and coffee and orange juice with me.  I sat and we talked about volunteering and life after retirement and grandchildren.  It seems that this is the first month they haven’t had a full-on breakfast buffet of sorts.  They are trying to be responsible with what funds they have, and they hope to get to a point where they have enough to provide breakfasts and contribute to missions.

Wow.  That touched my heart.

That’s good stuff.

They get it.  They realize that what is bringing folks to the breakfast is not really the food.  What keeps folks coming are the camaraderie, the friendships that are being built, the relationships that are already there.  That is what really matters.  The sausage biscuit or whatever else they decide to serve is just icing on the cake, so to speak. (And it was quite good “icing” I must say.)

It made me think about Mama and her love language.  That woman could put a hurting on a kitchen.  She could prepare a huge dinner with all kinds of vegetables and fried chicken or pork roast and gravy and biscuits and have a homemade dessert to chase it down with.  And don’t even get me started about Thanksgiving.  There just about wasn’t room for us to sit down and eat after we put all the food on the table.  It’s a wonder that table is still standing.   Oh me.  My mouth is watering just remembering.

On your birthday she would ask what you wanted for your special supper and she made it happen.  I dearly loved her pork roast and gravy over biscuits, but I am sure I asked for other things over the years.  Her homemade pizza was the best pizza ever.  Each year she made a Swedish version of Gingersnaps for me and used the Happy Birthday cake cookie cutter.  I miss all the little things she did to make the day extra special.  And she always said we had to celebrate for at least a week, so there were other times you could request your favorites too.  Oh how she loved us.

After Daddy was diagnosed with lymphoma four years ago, Mama wasn’t able to cook like she had been.  As it should be, her top priority was taking care of Daddy and making sure he was okay. If there was something he was hungry for, she started preparing it almost before her feet hit the kitchen.  But it wasn’t often that he was.  I can remember a few times that she cooked like before, but quite frankly she was exhausted and scared and worn out.  We encouraged her to let us cook or pick things up.  Picking up Stevi B’s was a special treat.  Daddy always teased me that I couldn’t just get a couple of pizzas–I had to bring the whole buffet to him.  Well, yeah, he was my Daddy and he deserved every bit of it.

After Daddy died, Mama so wanted to cook for us all again, but she was still so tired and, as we later realized, very sick.  Always a bargain shopper, she expanded her shopping list to include some already prepared things.  When Publix put their Stouffer’s meals on buy one, get one free, she was so excited she would call to let me know.  Our meals together when Mess Cat and her family came down from Atlanta would often be a Stouffer’s Lasagna, a Macaroni and Cheese, broccoli put in the oven to roast (y’all that is the BEST way to fix it!) and sometimes she’d feel up to frying okra.  She’d add applesauce or some kind of fruit in bowls and carrots and we’d have us a feast.  She always apologized, but we all had a good time, and that’s what we remember the most.  The joy of being together, the laughter at all of the stories we shared.  I remember the food being pretty good and how we’d all say how far those freezer meals had come over the years.  The macaroni and cheese mixed with the broccoli was really quite good.  It was time together and because Mama wasn’t spending all her time in the kitchen cooking, we had more time to visit with her.

And that’s what the men of Trinity UMC have figured out.  They have a good time, those Iron Chefs in the kitchen in the wee hours preparing all the food for their brothers.  But they realize that it’s the relationships that count the most, not what’s on the menu.

Don’t get me wrong.  I miss my Mama’s good cooking.  Something.  Fierce.  But as thankful as I am for her good cooking all those years, I realize now that what really fed us, filled our souls as well as our bellies, was her most special ingredient.

As our Princess tells it, one day she asked her Maemae why everything she made was the best thing ever. She asked Maemae what she added to make everything so good.  My Mama hugged her and laughed and said it was her special ingredient.

“Do you know what she said her special ingredient was?”

No, what?

“Love.  That’s what she added to everything she fixed.  That’s what made it extra good.”

And that’s what really feeds us, isn’t it?  I am thankful to the Men of Trinity UMC for their hospitality and for reminding me of something very important today–that special ingredient that we should add to everything we do.

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