Posts Tagged ‘memories’

English Muffins and Orange Marmalade

September 8, 2013

We bought english muffins the other day when Eddie grilled big mushrooms for dinner and we ate them like hamburgers.  Then we had some with toasted cheese with our soup and yesterday morning I had the last one for breakfast.  You may be wondering why I am writing a post about them – here’s the reason.

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English muffin and orange marmalade always makes me think of Eddie when I first met him and my Aunt and Uncle who introduced me to him.  I had been invited down for a 2 week holiday by them between finishing my second year of commercial art school and before I went to work for Boeing.  I can see their kitchen in my mind now and every morning for breakfast they would have coffee, fresh squeezed orange juice along with english muffin and orange marmalade – but not just any kind.  The muffins were always Thomas’ muffins and the marmalade was King Kelly.   I was never able to find it when I lived in the Eastern half of the country, I had to take some with me from my visits here or my California trips.

It was a special time in my life, I had fun with my Aunt and went with her as she was helping out with wedding plans for the young people in her life.  She had two sins and then kind of adopted Elle from Ireland and Bill – not sure where.  Eddie was good friends with my cousin Rob, the younger son who was also going to San Mateo Junior College.  When I arrived for my holiday, Eddie was an established part of the family.

Eddie and my Aunt met at the Red Cross doing the Charleston – Eddie was part of the Foreign Student Club and the Red Cross helped them a lot.  My Aunt was a volunteer – not sure how the Charleston came into it.  My aunt took Eddie under her wing and since he would look for room and board with a family in exchange for help around the house, she found him a place with her neighbor in back.  My Uncle also helped him a lot, plus he was invited to parties and family gatherings.

During my holiday I stayed in Bill’s old room, over the garage.  I can see that in mind as well.  I had visited  them with my family 2 or 3 times when I was growing up, but this trip was different, it was just me.  I had a project from my Dad, to copy my grandmother’s diary since my aunt wouldn’t let it out of the house even to be copied.  I also went with her on her errands and visiting, I enjoyed the drive through Hillsborough and looking at all the fancy houses.

I met Eddie about 2 days after I arrived – he came one evening to talk to my Uncle and before he went upstairs, he sat in the living room with my aunt and me.  I felt such an idiot, so when he came back downstairs and asked me out for ice cream, my jar hit the floor, I was so surprised.  So we went out quite a few times, even went to Sacramento for his class there.  I remember going to the Immigration office – he had to spend a lot of time there and had gotten to know a lot of people who worked there.  He not only went for his own stuff, but also to help new foreign students when they arrived.  Even so, there was still a lot of bureaucratic balderdash.

I remember driving around Hillsborough and the back way to San Mateo with him on our dates.  When I went by the golf course surrounded by huge eucalyptus trees, I thought about taking Max the dog out for a walk with my aunt to the course.  There were eucalyptus trees all over the place, something we don’t have in Washington.  My aunt had a lemon tree in her back yard, she always had fresh lemons.  Something else we don’t have here.

On the side of the house she had a lovely patio with a huge tree to shade it.  We would often have lunch outside there or I would just go sit and relax there.  I read the books she had and it was an enjoyable holiday.  So much so, I stayed an extra week, mostly because of Eddie.  He asked me out for most nights – it was painful for him because he would shave a second time that day and I am sure it must have burned every time after a while.  I didn’t realize that until quite awhile later.

When we came back from Australia, we lived in the Bay Area for 3 years and it continued to feel special to me because every where I went, there was a place Eddie took me or we drove by or something we would do.  We also made a lot of new memories as a married couple and also everywhere we went to live.  The memories here of my Mom and Dad, my two sisters and the wonderful times we shared all through the years.  I also would do English muffins and marmalade quite often and it would take me back to ay aunt’s kitchen in 1968.

Now you know why I wrote about English muffins and orange marmalade – it still gives me those wonderful memories of a time that truly changed my life.

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The Flip Side

February 5, 2012

I wrote about my Mom last week and the difficulties of dealing with her progression into dementia.  I had an email from my sister Candy a few weeks back that reminded me that life with Mom has not always been difficult.  She wrote:

I think all three of us–you, me, and Ellen–have longed for the approval and encouragement from Mom. She expressed her love in other ways: doll clothes, school lunches, and dire warnings of disasters.  Yet she did encourage us in so many ways. I remember she helped with my Bluebird group, sewed dresses for school and for dolls, made delicious meals, celebrated birthdays and holidays, and took time and care to wrap gifts, make picnic lunches for Vashon Island adventures, bathed us when we were sick (remember hot lemonade? the special bath soap only used when we were sick?) and so many other expressions of mother love and concern. Some people are great at parenting for one age group, but not for other age groups. Mom was, I think, best at being a parent for the younger years, when little ones needed to be shepherded more closely and she could do all the homemaker things for us and Daddy. Teenage years were more difficult for her (and us!) to navigate.  Sometimes I wish I could be a little girl again, bouncing on Mom and Dad’s bed on Christmas morning, opening red flannel stockings stuffed with goodies. But it is Christmas in my heart.

I realize I have spent my whole life looking for Mom’s approval and support, I now know it is something she can’t give because she never had it herself.  It is letting go of wanting it from her and understanding that all that love, acceptance, approval and trust comes from within me and my source.  Candy has reminded me that our childhood was not all “Don’t!” every time we turned around.  I have been working on coming to terms with Mom and how I see my childhood and my relationship to her.  For the past few years living here, I have only been aware and remembering the things that drive me crazy – learning to take the emotion out of it is not always easy.  Before Mom goes, I would like to have the great memories and feelings in the forefront, to keep that in mind, especially in those very frustrating times.   I’d like to ask both you and Ellen to start a list of things that were special for you, things that Mom did or said that you appreciated.  I would be interested to see how many we all put on the list and what is different – I realize both of you had different views of things and I would like to know more about that.

  •    Alcohol back rubs when we had flu – so soothing and refreshing
  •   I asked for sliced black olive sandwiches for lunch and she would make them.  I loved the meatloaf sandwiches.
  •   Coming home from school and Mom was there, baking cookies or downstairs  ironing, the smell of fresh clothes.
  •   She took us to the library after school for books.  I have a picture in my mind of being in the library in Madrona with Mom and Dad, everyone had a large pile of books to check out.  So appreciate their example of reading – it has always been one of my greatest pleasures.  I don’t remember learning to read, it is as if I have always known how to read.
  •   Saturday outings to different places, Mom making two lunches – peanut butter and crackers for Candy to eat on the ride, a proper lunch for all of us later.
  •   Mom trying out new recipes for dinner, enjoying the creativity of it.
  •   Yes, I remember the doll clothes for Christmas, clothes for Christmas and I especially remember that huge blue stuffed horse she made for Candy one year in Manhattan Beach.  it’s head was so heavy it always drooped to the side.
  •   When I could order a blouse from Sears or Ward’s and spending time deciding which one would work the best.
  •   When we went camping Mom did all the cooking and  planned lunches.   Remember when she would go into the grocery store and come out with bread, lunchmeat and a spread of some sort?
  • I always felt loved and wanted.  They gave us manners and integrity, respect for other people and their property, discipline and boundaries we could test and find they stayed in place. We always did things as a family; whether it was yard work, outings, playing cards, etc.  Now the boat is a whole story by itself.
  • Mom had a great sense of humor, we laughed a lot and she would come out with unexpected things that made us laugh.
  • Mom taught us how to make beds with hospital corners, to iron and clean house so we would be able to do when we were on our own.
  • We all had fun making root beer, all the steps.  We did a lot of hand cranked ice cream as well.
  • She helped welcome Eddie into the family and make him feel a part of it.  I think he has felt Mom and Dad were like his own parents.
  • Hot chocolate after going to see the Christmas ship
  • Making Christmas cookies
  • Birthdays – the birthday plate, chocolate cake with white 7 minute icing, candles, birthday parties and the birthday box with pink and blue crepe paper

My sister Ellen is working on her list, though one thing she did mention – as well as remembering alcohol rubs when we were sick – was “the biggest thing for me is my great gratitude for my college education”.

Somewhere inside this stubborn, irritating and unpredictable woman is that witty, loving and creative mother all three of us girls remember.    I would much rather remember all of the loving things she did rather than how it feels at this moment.


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