Both of our kids live in Lexington now. They don’t come in very often. “It’s such a long drive!” they say. I roll my eyes. “It’s the same distance from here to there,” I say, and “People make that trip all the time for doctor’s appointments.” They know it’s true.
When they do come home, we always want to make it special. My beloved and I want them to feel a warm welcome when they walk in the door, stirring good memories of the past. They usually give us a list of what they want to eat so the warm welcome at the door is often the smell of a favorite dish baking in the oven.
Last week, our son came home for a few days. Though he hadn’t technically given us a food list, I knew exactly what to make. We had meatloaf. I’m not a fan, but our boy loves it for some reason. His very, very favorite thing is cornbread dressing. I bake it in a cast-iron skillet like his Mamaw did. Actually, it’s her recipe that she taught me decades ago. The smell fills the house clear to the door. I wanted his senses to be flooded with goodness when he took his first step inside.
I was hoping for at least one moan during supper. It’s the “Reed” guideline for all good food. (My beloved does a triple moan-Mmm, mmm, mmm!-with emphasis on the last one.)
A few days later, our son returned to Lexington and our daughter came in to celebrate her 30th birthday. She has no problem at all making a list of her favorite foods. On Saturday morning, as we had so many times over her lifetime, we had biscuits and gravy. She moaned several times and said it was the best I’d ever made. In fact, she said she was sure it would be what she ate in heaven, but Justin Timberlake would be serving it to her. (That goes back to the late 90s.)
We had several other dishes she liked and we suddenly realized they had all come from my mother-in-law’s recipes. We talked about that. So many things we love, especially food, come from her. It was “Mamaw this” and “Mamaw that”. We smiled and had a moment of appreciating all the good things she taught us. She was so loving and caring, a great cook and full of hospitality. Everything she touched seemed special. She passed away a few years ago and we know that now she is having a good time in heaven. I said something about always having her with us because of her traditions that carry on with us.
Then my daughter asked, “What did we get from Granny?” That’s my mom. It was a fair question. We have so many things from my beloved’s mother, what had we taken from my mother? I pondered for only a moment and I knew…
“She taught us to love Jesus, that’s what she did.” It was true. We had gotten the Southern hospitality and comfort food cooking from my mother-in-law, but the Jesus lovin’ came from my mom. What an awesome thing! She took me (made me go) to church from the time I was little so Jesus is rooted in me to my toes! She has pressed on when the odds were against her because she knew God was with her. I’ve seen her trust in God in the middle of storms that seemed to last forever. (And I don’t mean the ‘rain’ kind of storm.) I have watched her stay faithful to God through good times and bad times. Even in danger, she never flinched. She taught me to hide God’s Word in my heart, because it was good medicine and I would need it every day. She showed me to love others and that family is not just blood kin. Wow! My mom taught me a lot!
All this makes me think about what my kids and family are learning from me. I hope it’s the best of both of their two dear grandmothers! I pray my kids remember me as their biscuit and gravy, meatloaf makin’, Jesus lovin’ Momma.
I have to ask…what are your kids learning from you?
Dawn Reed is a columnist for The Floyd County Times.