By Leslie R. Stacks
My parents grew up poor and began their marriage in the Depression. Over time they became wealthy, but Momma remained frugal. She could not bring herself to buy an expensive cut of meat, and no leftover ever went unused. That is why it was so special when, for Momma’s 70th Christmas, her ex-daughter-in-law gave her a standing rib roast of prime beef. She even hired the city’s top chef to show Momma how to cook it.
I lived in another state, and early Christmas morning Momma phoned to tell me she had taken the roast out of the refrigerator – as the chef had instructed – to let it come to room temperature. A while later, Momma called to tell me she was preheating the oven. Still later, Momma called again, to tell me the roast was now out of the oven and set aside to rest – as the chef had instructed – so it would retain its juices when cut.
At each phone call, Momma was increasingly giddy with delight and anticipation, so I could hardly wait for her next call, to hear how good the roast had been. A couple of hours passed, but no phone call. Finally, the phone did ring, and it was Daddy. He told me that the roast had been wonderful, and that Momma had enjoyed one of her best Christmases ever. Afterward, though, while in the kitchen with her grandson cleaning up, Momma had collapsed and died.
I know this sounds like a sad story, but for me it is a story of love and cooking and Momma. Remember I said the roast was a gift from Momma’s ex-daughter-in-law? Rachel and my brother parted on very harsh terms, then my brother disappeared. Momma chose to put aside her anger and hurt so that she could maintain a relationship with the mother of her grandson.
Over the next few years, their relationship grew, even after Rachel met a doctor named Luke and the two of them got married. To Momma, it was the most natural thing in the world to include Rachel’s new husband in her circle of love. When Luke and Rachel had a daughter, Momma’s circle of love grew, and she sewed baby clothes for the new little girl, just as she had for all her other grandchildren.
That final Christmas night, Rachel, Luke, and the two children were there for dinner. Luke was the physician who attended Momma upon her collapse—and the son who held her in his arms at her death. And Momma’s circle of love remained unbroken.
Other Mother’s Day contest winners:
- Waiting for Strawberries
- Mother’s Special Sandwich
- Korean Girl Seeks American Food
- Meatball Mamas from Around the World