This is my Nannie’s favorite photo of my Mom. She was less than 8 years old. Even she didn’t remember how old she was when she was dragged in from her active life to sit still long enough to have her portrait made. Action was mother’s middle name. I learned early on in my childhood never to announce in her presence those time worn, self centered childhood words, “I’m bored.” This phrase usually brought on the knee jerk response, “if you have that much time on your hands, you can clean the dust off your collections.” I had a floor to ceiling bookshelf that was half books and half doo dahs: my porcelain treasures, the ceramic animals, and my travel souvenirs. Dust collectors every one. My aversion to dusting today is only overcome by my need to live in a low irritant environment because of my asthma.
Mom did teach me something more important than just housekeeping. She taught me how to serve others. She was the volunteer queen, always doing good somewhere for someone. She operated through her church, her sorority, a philanthropic group, and own her own time. She was a giving person. After Daddy died, she would have cravings for foods that weren’t easily cooked as single portions. She would make the batch, freeze a portion for later, and give the rest as gifts to the other singles in the neighborhood. She never worried that they never “paid her back” for generosity of the table means that we open our hearts and feed without expectations of return. We understand that God is working through us to bring cheer to the lonely as well as nutrition to their body. God is also working in us to quicken our spirit, to ease our loneliness, and to allow us to share our blessings with others.
My Mom was willing to try new things. When she was eighty, she got a computer so she could email the kids and get photos over the internet. She also wanted to search for recipes on line that were diabetic friendly. Once she got the hang of it, she was off to the races. She even found a mercy flight for a Friend’s child that needed specialized medical care. Mom stayed busy and active up to the very end of her days, even when she was dying of pancreatic cancer. Some of her last acts of generosity were remembering friends who had died with memorial gifts to her church. A week before she died, she was painting her ceramic angels in the hospital bed. “I’m going home,” she said, with conviction. Today is the 12th anniversary of that homecoming.
Cornie’s Kitchen wouldn’t exist if it weren’t for my Mother and my Nannie, for these ladies were the cooks who taught me about life, sharing, serving, and food.