Thursday, June 11, 2009

Family recipes

When my mom died, one of the things she left behind was a "mother/daughter cookbook" I gave her. It was a blank book waiting to be filled out. I'd gifted it to her for some holiday and asked if she'd fill it in with recipes she loved. I could add my own things and keep passing it down. I loved the idea of a family cookbook, with all the memories that seem richer when they revolve around food.

It was still in the wrap when she died. She hadn't had it long, but I think at the end of her life, tasks like that became too daunting to be realistic. I'd felt this urgency of time left with her, knowing we didn't have much longer, so memorializing things seemed almost a frantic need. But her cognition and attention were so muddied by the Muscular Dystrophy. It just wasn't fair to hope for a filled out cookbook. I had a bit of sadness when I found the book...not so much that it was empty...but what the emptiness said about that end time. We were losing her for awhile before she actually died.

I just unwrapped it the other day, and put in my first couple of entries for Simone. The chocolate cake we love. My egg casserole that has become a standard family favorite. Mom's Chicken Dish that we always ate instead of Thanksgiving turkey. Something inside me just melted when I told Steve about the project, and the first thing he said was: "What about your mom's chicken dish?" My mom would have loved that he said that. When she came to visit, she used to bring several batches frozen for Steve, because she knew he loved it.

My plan is to collect them over the years and then give it to Simone as a wedding gift. Sounds more sexist than our family works, as the boys love baking with me too. But since the book is pink striped with flowers and says Mother Daughter Cookbook right on it...well, I'll need another option for my boys.

It's mind-boggling the many ways that Legacy takes form. Favorite dishes. The necklace of my mom's that I'm wearing to class tonight. Trying to pass on the love for reading that my mom passed on to me. That I think of my mom every single time I put on a pair of tights, because she taught me the perfect way to do it. And of course, her chicken dish.

It makes me wonder what I'll leave behind. What will make my children think of me? To think of my children making my "What The Heck Chocolate Cake" someday with their children, reminiscing about scraping the bowl with me in their childhood, reminds me that we're all part of this really awesome circle of life. We create experiences and memories with those we love, so that they can turn around and pass them on to the next generation. And the next.

Beautiful stuff.

1 comment:

Rambling Rachel said...

What a sweet gift, brought tears to my eyes. And what a fabulous idea. And what a beautiful post.

I think about my legacy a lot and what my kids are going to remember.