Tuesday, January 27, 2015

The legacy continues (part 2...)

So after three and a half weeks since mom passed away we have spent 30 hours on the road and I have now returned to work. We have had the joy of welcoming a new Sallee into the family, my little niece Anna Marie. And what a little doll she has been, she is so sweet, quiet, wide eyed. It's so bittersweet. This joyous little angel has joined the family. Mom is still very missed but her legacy lives on. She lives on in the green eyes I see in Anna. She lives on in projects that are yet to be finished at my house and hers.  While mom was sick we put most everything on hold and focused our efforts on just spending time as a family, so a lot of other things got put on the back burner.  Mom was a true renaissance woman, she was a singer and worshipper, a creative crafter, great cook and really an artist when it came to vision with wood working and design. Since mom's absence,  I have been amazed how much her gifts and talents sort of flow through me, and that excites me. It really has nothing to do with glorifying my own ability. When I think about my future children and my nieces I know that they will know their grandmother so much better because of her legacy that she has left behind as I share and enjoy her hobbies and gifts.

In my last entry, I shared that I have had some time off. I have mostly been writing and drawing and cooking. In fact, think I am finally writing that book I allude to in the intro of the blog. But this book may not be what you are expecting. Mike has been enjoying all the cooking projects too.  But I have also allowed myself to keep running into Mom's gifts these past two weeks. This week was to continue refinishing furniture.  I refinished some furniture and started going through some of the the bags of mom's belongings that she started giving me back in October.
First the ladder, it was this old dumpster worthy barn ladder that was in the attic in our house. It's faded, has a faded look and I had this vision for cleaning it up and either painting it or something and hanging it on a wall or using it hang stuff on like towels in the bathroom or blankets.  I wish I had taken a picture of it before. To give you a visual it was covered in paint and spackle and I couldn't pick it up without getting a splinter, possibly a lost cause.  Multiple attempts at sanding a smoothing seemed pointless, and yet I couldn't give up.  I realized how my persistent vision for this thing is so much like mom.  She wouldn't ever give up on a wood piece, it could always get a second life.  The things she could do to an old piece of furniture were amazing given the time and persistence.
So last week Missouri was blessed with multiple 50 degree days this week which allowed me to get outside and work over the ladder I have had waiting in the garage.  I honestly  wasn't sure about it, even the chisel was a challenge and I was worried I was going to break the wood or ruin it trying.  I couldn't believe I was able to get the paint off afterall.  The final product looks better than I had hoped and has quickly found a place in my living room
The next piece was Mikes old sewing table that he used as a nightstand back in Georgia. This was my first attempt at painted furniture that I purposely distressed. Again, no before picture but lets just say, now I think I feel like keeping this old table. It actually has me excited about finishing more pieces, including ones that mom had plans for.  I can't tell you how amazing that feels.  Last October I wept each time I went into my parents basement and walked by her work bench and saw its abandoned state. It broke my heart to see the ideas and projects waiting, her vision, her creativity were locked away in her sick body. I was just desperate and hopeless, wanting some way get those ideas out, help her somehow. But mom has left us and the unfinished lampstand and the two mirrors  still remain unfinished in the basement and it still hurts. Today somehow I have new found hope. I have hope for the gifts God has given that I get to share.

I know the hope I have found is from the Lord, and I know this pain and grieving I'm  experiencing is one these momentary trials, I have always been encouraged to stand strong through. The 2-3 months before mom died I  was already grieving as I saw mom abandon more and more of all that made mom who she was. Her fatigue and loss of strength kept her out of the kitchen, left projects and crafts half finished at her work table, kept her from staying up the late hours, kept her from the weekends on the lake,  the disease kept her from so many things she enjoyed.  Now the disease can't take anything else from her and instead the craft projects and the late night cooking projects continue, and gladly so.

Thursday, January 22, 2015

The legacy continues ( part 1)...

Its been three weeks since mother left this earth and this is the blog I didn't want to write.
This is the blog that had so many, many thoughts wrapped up in a thousand memories.
I had the words for this blog in October and November and yet somehow couldn't write it.
Strangest part is I couldn't write because there was a need for completion in order to write despite that rapid unraveling of my life.

My life has completely unraveled as I know it. It feels like a beautifully woven rug that has suddenly run out of  one color. Now the weaving continues and yet it continues just without the green or the red and I'm left deciding if it is still beautiful without that beautiful color winding in and around all the other shapes and designs. There is a definite absence of that beauty and design and yet I see her face everywhere, I see her hand all over my house, I feel her presence at their house, my brother's house and mine. And there are tender kisses and gentle reminders of a great love and a creative spirit and gracious giver no matter what I do..

Its been three weeks since mom left this earth.  In the time since I have had some time off. I have been writing, cooking, going through the bags of things that she started giving me back in October, finishing projects that have been put off for months due to family demands. I started with cooking thinking this would be a nice distraction, because it's always been a stress reliever and great fun for me.

I have always teased that mom didn't teach me how to cook. Growing up I was borderline banished from making anything beyond macaroni or tuna sandwiches. I was horribly messy and inattentive in the kitchen, and to my accomplished home-economics mother, this could not be born in her home. I went to college and started cooking the basics, steamed vegetables, chicken and various box dinners. I knew that things could be better because I was raised on better. Between working at Italian restaurants and calling mom I eventually figured out how to collaborate my taste buds and attention span and became a pretty decent cook. Mom and I then developed a hobby of trying to duplicate favorite dishes that we would have in various restaurants. This became my stress relief through college and graduate school. I may not have had time to live like a socialite but at least I could cook like food like I was one, and mom was with me for the tastetests.

So to de-stress these past weeks I went to the kitchen.  The first venture was homemade chicken noodle soup, complete with handmade egg noodles. I made a double batch and  I went through the process of boiling the chickens for homemade broth because as mom always taught me the soup is only as good as the broth and chicken in it.

Then I moved on to decadent french toast. As I blew Mikes socks off with recipe I went on to explain this was mom's recipe that she started making when I was in high school with old french bread.  Next, I made was cremed brulee. This was one of my favorite dishes to make with mom. As I was deciding whether to do a water bath or double boiler I recalled all of our variations of successes and failures we had with double boilers when we would make cremed brulee together. I opted for the water bath with some pralined pecans on top and the custards were fantastic.

The next desired cooking project of the last 3 months was to master cheesecake. I had only managed to find mediocre recipes that flopped in my previous attempts. I had initially hoped to make it for dad for his birthday in November but now its January. To the internet I went, seeking out recipes that resembled the best one I knew- my mom's. It had orange peel in the crust and lemon zest in the cake itself.  I found part of a copy of mom's recipe as guide and proceeded to make a Raspberry Cheesecake that I found by Ina Garten. The final product was just as good my childhood memory had tasted. Light in texture, creamy in the center, dense on the edges, slightly tart and so delicious. Needless to say I blew Mikes mind with this one.

So yes there are other projects that have been undertaken these past weeks as well and I will get to that, but my kitchen has become one of my many healing places.  It was supposed to be my break, my distraction while I did other harder things that reminded me of mom, but instead she showed up in my kitchen.  And I see the tapestry weaving now as beautiful as ever, the glow of mom's beautiful presence is still there, it never went away. Jeff and I both carry so much of her in us and we can't hide or hide from it really.  I can't help but being touched by God's tenderness as I see the legacy of mom continues to show up everywhere, even the kitchen.