I glanced at the small framed writing on the wall as I passed and memories filled my mind. I stopped and studied it. It was a perfect place for it–in the kitchen, where she spent so much time and created so many of those memories. The memories–of good smelling aromas that invited people to lift the lid and bring noses down to whatever was simmering in that pot, to dip bread, crackers, even fingers into it. The memories–of hours sitting at the table talking over any problem–broken promises, broken crystal, broken cars, broken hearts. The memories–of simple, homespun advice that didn’t come out of a best-selling book, but from a best-spent life. The memories–of laughter and sometimes tears from shared secrets, shared loves, shared sorrows. The memories–of caring, sharing, loving, consoling and inspiring from a person who brought out the best in everyone she met.
I looked at the framed writing again. The recipe was for a simple Italian dish and it was so like her–simple, uncomplicated, practical. I could hear her voice, “Mix till it feels right,” or “add till you think it’s enough.” Just simple, commonsense directions.
Even the way it was written was so “Rose”–a piece of note paper now turning brown with age, written in pencil so that the words now slightly faded. So practical–using whatever was available in the kitchen.
If someone stopped by at lunch time, Rose would see what was available and concoct some delicious treat. One of my favorites, scrambling some eggs with onions and throwing in a can of peas, doesn’t sound so great, but she made it taste like a gourmet dish. Thumbing through the recipes that she wrote for me, one characteristic was evident–using whatever was in the kitchen. My own kitchen is much more extensively stocked, but I could never create a recipe that could compare with the simple delicious inventions of Rose.
I came to realize that her recipes for food were a lot like her recipe for life: keep it simple, share with everyone, enjoy what you have, make the best of a situation, expect things to be good, love what you do, and always set an extra place. The kitchen was just the best place to do these things. What a shame that people now visit through the front door, instead of entering through the back and sitting in the kitchen. No one would consider using Rose’s front door and sitting in her living room. It just wouldn’t do. The yummy treats, the hot coffee, and the real living were in the kitchen where Rose was.
Rose is gone now. We have just the memories of her. One of the memories is in a simple white frame in my kitchen. When I prepare that recipe, it’s not as good, but it’s a good memory, and I hear her telling me, “You can’t make soup if you wait till 4:00 to get home, Tommi.” That’s another simple, practical piece of advice.
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