The Diner

When I was a kid, my mom turned mundane or challenging realities into memories, into moments of joy. Once we had little money for Christmas, and mom scrounged the house pulling out odds and ends (an old camera, a beat-up typewriter, various knick-knacks). She wrapped them and put them under the tree. We thought they were treasures. Once we had only dry cereal for breakfast, no milk–but there was a single can of concentrated orange juice in the freezer. Somehow, she convinced my sister Vonda and me that cereal drowned in orange juice was all the rage, so much better than plain ol’ milk. When she was done selling it, we felt sorry for those poor folks who never know the delights of corn flakes floating in watered, orange-ish beverage.

Every so often–and I don’t know whether it was because mom was frugal and refused to trash leftovers or because money was tight and the fridge bare–she would handwrite “menus” from a fabulous bistro she dubbed “Momma’s Kitchen.” The spread offered nothing more than remnants from the previous 2 weeks, but somehow, transformed by her renaming of the dishes and set to table linens and candlelight, it was like we’d landed a table at some 5 Star NY City establishment.

I’ve wondered the past week what my mom would think–what she would do–if she were still alive in the middle of this pandemic. And last Sunday night, without really thinking about why, I found myself typing up a menu, offering omelettes and muffins and breakfast meats and blackberries. I spent an hour or two in the kitchen. I cut onions and pressed garlic and cracked eggs. I listened to The Avett Brothers. And I felt so very thankful for my mom who always saw possibility, who believed every moment revealed a little bit of magic, a mom who loved us with whatever she had in front of her.

9 Replies to “The Diner”

  1. Oh, Winn, thank you for sharing this perspective of a mom’s creative ways, love and care! It did matter and parents can make a difference as you tell us this story in this time. Bless you!

  2. Dear Winn, You have helped me remember so much about my mother this morn. She was born in 1895 in St. Louis. Her mother died when she was 4 and her father put all 6 children in the Anheiser Busch orphanage where they stayed until they were 18. They taught the children how to cook, bake and much more.
    I never knew what store bought bread was for years and besides if the bread she baked burned a little I was told to eat it and be thankful. I would get rosey cheeks.I’ve still got them. She could make a tough stewing hen the most delicious tender chicken in her pressure cooker. I still cook like her and would prefer to eat at home than in a restaurant. My daughter and grandaughters are the same. I praise the Lord for that precious Mother who knew Christ and is loving her Lord. I also praise Him for a father born in Austria who worked for Union Pacific RR as a baggage man He got up early to start a fire in a woodburning furnace. He is also with Christ because Christ was more important
    in their lives than anything else. Thanks Winn. Much love in Him Lillian

  3. Thanks Winn, that was a wonderful story and a great personal reminder of growing up in times that were, on occasion,challenging.

  4. My mom would make plain macaroni and fried bologna seem like a feast. I cringe at my ingratitude when she served rabbit the neighbor provided. It was a strange and wild taste and now I realize it was possibly all she had available. Thank you for stirring this delayed appreciation. Lovely memories.

  5. Oh Winn, I love those types of stories from our loved ones past and present. This one touched my heart, was medicine for my soul, especially now in this pandemic, and brought me to tears. There is nothing like the gift of a good mother.
    “Be of good cheer, I have overcome the world.” John 16:33

  6. Great story. It is so good to prompt our memories sometimes and be grateful for our families and upbringing!
    Things weren’t always easy for us when we grew up (in Australia) but those are not the things we remember.
    I am very thankful Mum took us to church, and encouraged us in our studies and appreciating music!
    So pleased you are finding ways to ride out the crisis over there!
    I tend to worry about you all, but pray God has things in control as he does here too !!
    Have enjoyed your writing over our summer of bush fires as I was resting up a newly damaged bad back…and now continue to enjoy your writing during these weird days of staying at home !!

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