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.