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sesame street swedish chef

I love you, a bushel and a peck!
A bushel and a peck, and a hug around the neck!
A hug around the neck, and a barrel and a heap

The ingredients of a life fill in the dash between birth and death. My mother used them lavishly, colorfully and with abandon.

My mother, undaunted by her own strict and occasionally domineering mother, was unfazed at times when she sought independence. As a teenager living in New York, my mother dreamed of cozy cottages and country climes. She had seen a wooden rocking chair and wanted to purchase it for her room. My grandmother felt it was unnecessary and impractical in their modest-sized apartment. My mother was told that she could not get it. Those are fighting words for my mother. She purchased that chair and brought it home, remarkably, on the New York subway system. Through many incarnations, and paint colors, that rocking chair has traveled through several moves across the country and today sits in her home office.

My mother did things on her own timetable and didn’t let the seemingly impossible stop her. Where I am punctual, my mother found the concept of time to be more fluid. If we were supposed to be somewhere in five minutes, that was enough time for her to put on nail polish before we headed into the car.

When I was a teenager, my family moved to New Orleans for a number of years. Mom and Dad had to acclimate to the weather, so hot and humid compared to our New England winters, and become accustomed to a brand new way of life. Both of my parents worked and had to figure out how to maneuver in their new environment while trying to find their way around the city. In the days before Mapquest, and the difficulty in driving in the city while holding a large paper map, it was necessary to remember the minimum number of routes to arrive at your destination. On one shopping excursion, my mother had missed her turn and did not know another way to get back to the Mall. As I was a teenager, fresh from driving lessons and my license still warm, I told my mother that the sign said “No Left Turns.” My mother’s steely reply: “Wanna Bet?”

How could I turn out any other way than strong, determined, caring, and possessing a wit and absurd sense of humor? Even in the horrors of losing my mother to ALS, our quirky brand of love and humor prevailed. My mother told me that the doctor said to her that it is very important for people with ALS to breathe. I looked at her, and said, “Mom, tell the doctor it is important for all patients to breathe.” It took a moment and then, through our shared fear and heartbreak, my mother threw her head back and laughed. I miss that so much.

My mother gifted me bits, pieces and pinches of love, chutzpah, humor, deep intention, perfectionism, creativity, strength, determination, independence and the directive to think about others first. I am held together with the glue of family. We are responsible for each other and are made up of basic truths and a profound sense of belonging. We love all of the members of our family tree because they are “ours.” Mom loved us a bushel and a peck. She sang that song to each of her 15 grandchildren and 5 great grandchildren. When in doubt, buy balloons or flowers. Even a cup of coffee tastes better when someone else makes it and gives it to you. Two cookies – one in each hand is a balanced meal. The most important lesson in life is to be a mensch. Recipes handed down always have notes in the margins.

Stirred up as I am about injustice, I can be whipped into a froth of self-righteousness and a fight for the underdog. I can stew for a long time, but would prefer to be light hearted. Blending all these parts together and layers of empathy and kindness makes a dessert so precious that it only comes once a lifetime. For now, my mother is an Angel Cake but she gave me the sweetest parts of my nature and the nuttiest parts of my brain. It all begins and ends with great laughter and one slice of life is never enough. The recipe is handed down from generation to generation and now it is my turn to create the sweetness and keep the crust from getting too hard. Have you been served?
Weekly word challenge – a pinch of me to share with you
Thank you for stopping by! It means more than you know.


  1. You are great!like it!!!:)

    • Thank you so much! We put ourselves out online and never know quite how it will be received. I really appreciate your reading my post.

  2. I Loved it! Thank you for sharing this with us! Its truly a piece where I can imagine your Mom!
    Jaynine 😉

    • Dear Jaynine, I appreciate your comment more than you can know! Mom was a character but a brilliant, determined and wonderful grandmother. Thank you for letting me share a pinch with you.

      • I am glad to have found you through the Daily Post challenges! I can only hope one day my children will in turn remember the best of me, and honour the memories as you have for yours!

      • Thank you for such a beautiful compliment JayNine! I am blessed to have grown up with a strong respect and love, despite the nonsense we all go through as children, for my parents. With my own children, I don’t know how they will turn out and if they will ever care for me in the same way. But they have great respect and love for their grandparents, so at least that passed down.

      • I have two posts I think youd appreciate. Theyre like a Pinch of me… Well, a little more like one of those difficult recipes that you follow DIRECTLY and it STILL comes out like a pile you cant recognize–or eat!
        Take a read when you have time:

        I have another one about my mom (dont worry two’s enuff lol) You will REALLY get a sense of the love I have for her there!

  3. Love your take on this challenge! And your wordplay and metaphors are very clever, in addition to being a lovely tribute to your mom. Very lovely writing!

    • Thank you for such a lovely and gracious comment. As I have read some of your beautiful prose, I am very flattered that you like my writing.

  4. A delightful and heartwarming read! Loved it 🙂

    • Thank you so very much! When we open ourselves up, it is scary, but your positive comment makes me feel so good.

  5. Wow, I love the way that you described yourself!

    • Thank you so very much for your sweet comment! It means more than you can know.

  6. A thoroughly enjoyable read. Thanks for sharing.

    • Thank you so much for reading the post and taking the time to add a positive comment. I really appreciate it.

  7. I loved the descriptions you give of your mom and yourself. Thanks for sharing.

    • thank you so very much Kathy. Missing Mom and defining myself is intricately drawn for me. So much of who I am started with her and continues whether I can see her or not. But I always hope that she can see me and is still around, always.

      • I lost my mom four and a half years ago, and I’ve dedicated my blog to her. I believe your mom can see you and is with you. I know my mom visits me. Take care.

      • thank you so much for your perspective and sharing this bumpy road with me.

  8. Wow! This is a beautiful! I don’t know what else to say.

    • Thank you so very much for your kind and positive comment. I miss my mother and while there are things to make us laugh, it is still bittersweet. But I hope that I still make her proud.

      • I am sure you do. I think the most important thing for a Mum is that her children are happy. To me you seem to be a very optimistic person, so I think you must be making her proud. 🙂

      • That is very generous and kind of you to say. There are definitely days of ups and downs, sometimes even hours. She gave us a love of family, legacy and writing. She was part Dutch too!

2 Trackbacks/Pingbacks

  1. By Recipe For A Journalist | Cheri Speak on 22 Jul 2013 at 11:05 pm

    […] A cup of family history, a bushel and a peck of love, and a pinch of crazy ( […]

  2. […] writer you should visit. Over from a freshly pressed blog TheEmpathyQueen I was comforted by our commonalities, which are sometimes difficult to source in my physical world! Thanks for putting yourself out […]

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