Wednesday, January 27, 2010

A Sad, but Happy Goodbye

Today was Mildred's funeral. How does one say 'goodbye' to someone who has been 'there' for so many for 87 years. I say 87 because that's how long it was told today, that Mildred was a member of the church she was buried in. She was literally a womb to tomb woman when it came to her loyalty and love and devotion. As a baby, she was brought to service in the 'church' that was long ago out grown, she was baptized a member at age 8 and lived to serve for the next 87 in the newer building that took root next to that little white church of her youth. What an example she set of care and devotion of those around her. She lived in the house she was born in, worked at the bank less than 100 yards from her back door for 50 years and worshipped the way worship ought to be for the whole of her life. Mildred decided, once she 'retired' that she would devote herself to many other people do you know can claim over 20 missions trips AFTER they turn 62?

Like the detail oriented person she was, her funeral was carried out according to 'her' plan. Five pages of plan, according to one of the ministers officiating. From her favorite verses to her favorite hymns to who should do what and how, Mildred left nothing to anyone else, so she wouldn't 'be a bother'....when the service started to wax eloquent about her, we were reminded that the service should be about the Lord she served, not her. In fact, one of the ministers stated from the pulpit he could feel her pulling on his coat tail telling him 'that's enough, you can sit down and be quiet now'. So to take that lead, I'll end here about the service. I will however, go on about the luncheon.

After saying our goodbyes in the cemetary, we returned to the fellowship hall to have a luncheon of deli meats, potato salads, veggie platters and the ever-present jello salad/molds/etc. There was also a dessert table, covered, in Mildred's honor, all sorts of chocolatey goodness. I made the bonbons (again, Thank YOU, Barb)and they were all snarfed up, which is a good thing, I think. We laughed and talked and had a good time, mostly warmed this cold winter day by memories of a life fulfilled and a grateful people who thanked the Almighty for the privilege of having known this lovely, lovely lady.

I know I promised photos, but other things arose and I forgot the camera. The spread was the usual funeral luncheon, nothing spectacular about it. What was spectacular was the person it was held for.

Saturday, January 23, 2010

My Mother's Birthday

My mother would have been 81 this week. Marion Louis(e) Erdman was born January 19, 1929 in Philadelphia to George James and Emma Mary (Esthimer) Erdman. She was born at home in the Kensington section. A step up, she was told, from her parents' beginnings in Fishtown. She always told me her middle name was Louis (loo-is) as it was spelled that way on her handwritten birth certificate. I came to find out that her name was to be Louise (loo-eeez)but it was misspelled. Just another quirk of fate, as she was prone to say. My mother was typical of a blue collar family. She dropped out of school to help with finances when she was a teenager, spending 20 years as a seamstress in what was then Webb's Curtain Company, 4th and Cambria Streets (now the heart of the Badlands) in Philly. Even when she got adventurous she was subject to fate. She and my aunt, her best friend and my namesake, decided to take a road trip to Florida. Her car broke down in North Carolina. While waiting for it to be repaired and them to return to Pennsylvania, she met my father (but that is another story for another posting), she returned to NC, married my father, and the rest is, as they say, history.

My mother worked off and on while I was growing up in NC as a seamstress, babysitter, and her final job, the one she spent the last 18 years before her retirement, as the lunch lady. She loved this job. Never much of a cook, she stirred, mixed, baked and served 500 kids lunch on a daily basis. During her summers off, she made afghans, sweaters, mittens, doilies and all sorts of other items for her co-workers and their families.

She wasn't a fancy person. She was, however, aware of how 'fate' can deal you an unfair hand, but it was up to you how you played it. She never spoke of dreams of what she wanted to be when she was younger, she always stayed in the here and now. A lot of what I took, at the time, for being cold and hard-hearted, I see that now she was only trying to teach me that sometimes dreams are just that. Don't have caviar tastes when all you can afford is hamburger. I think she tried to dampen my enthusiasm to keep me from failing at something I couldn't acheive. Was she right? I don't know. All I know is that she tried her best and now that she is no longer with us, I miss her. She passed away from uterine cancer July 29, 2001.

My mother and my father's sister developed a close relationship after they were both widowed and retired. They shopped and took 'day trips' and generally 'hung out'. They were in an accident in 1995 that killed my aunt. Since the accident took place in my mother's driveway, she emotionally could not stay there, so she came to me to recouperate. This is when we indoctrinated her in our family's birthday tradition. On your birthday, you get whatever you want to eat, no matter how elaborate. Her option: meatloaf, mashed potatoes and peas.

So, this year, on the 81st anniversary of my mother's birth, almost nine years after she passed, we are going to celebrate her life. Tuesday, the actual date, was busy here, so with her permission, we set aside the celebration until the weekend (we do that sometimes for birthday do's if the birthday falls in the middle of the week). So tonight, we are celebrating my mother's life. Happy Birthday, Mama Mac! We miss you and will have only happy thoughts about you while we have meatloaf, mashed potatoes and peas.

Friday, January 22, 2010


Back in the summer, I discussed Prayer in the Park (PIP), an annual function the church we attend, holds during the warmer months. Instead of 'Wednesday Night Prayer Meeting' the regular attenders, and more than a few stragglers, show up at the local park with covered dishes. There is a pot luck dinner and a speaker afterwards. I posted recipes, took pictures of the food and generally babbled on about what happens there and the fact I tried to make something new and different each time. I also posted about Mildred at that time. Mildred was an anchor and mainstay in this church. No one didn't know Mildred or hadn't interacted with her. In her 90's, Mildred still had her fingers in many, many pies around the church. Some people would describe Mildred as an 'old maid' or 'maiden auntie', but she never fit any title that sounded like that. Mildred, to put it mildly was a dynamo, one that couldn't be stopped. Or could she.

A couple of years ago, she was diagnosed with a heart disorder. Surgery could have fixed it, but it was risky enough that it could have killed her. She opted to not have the surgery and let God do what God knows best. This was almost three years ago. As the Summer of 2009 came, Mildred was showing the effects of this condition. She was fairly much house bound, but her door never hit the jamb from someone leaving before someone else came in. Pastors and laity came to minister to her but each left feeling uplifted and better than when they came in. It was Mildred who ministered to each of us, she hugged us, prayed for us and asked if she could pray for our 'troubles' comment on herown. I was fortunate enough to be 'responsible' for 'feeding Mildred' on PIP nights. The church has a service ministry that provides meals on an as needed basis to the sick and Mildred was on the list to receive a meal on Wednesday nights. Since she ate like a bird, I decided to make her, instead of the usual platter we sent from PIP to othr shut-ins, Dixie Cup Dinners. I took about eight hot cups and put a little bit of this in one, and a little bit of something else in another. She warmed my heart by telling me how much she liked my 'little surprise packages' Her only request: chocolate, and the more the better. Yes, our sainted little Mildred had a vice, and I found it....CHOCOLATE!

This past Monday, January 18th, at 2:45 p.m., Mildred fulfilled her journey in this mortal existence. Mildred is with the angels now. We want to cry for our sadness, but we should rejoice that Mildred is now where she has worked and prayed and wished for for a long time. I believe Jesus, the One she served so many, many years, personally met her at the gate, took her hand, one that wasn't lined or shaky, tucked it under His arm and showed her around. She was so happy to see her family who went before her, she was shown the choir loft where our friend Donna is leaning over Bach's shoulder, making sure she got the note right, she waved and told Amy Taylor how glad she was to meet her as she prayed for her during her illness. She got to hold baby Rachel, who came to heaven just a few days before her, then she got fitted for her long white robes and shown her place in the celestial sphere where she can now only begin to really worship God the way she has wanted to.

Mildred had no children, no close relatives. She did, however, leave behind a lot of people who were privileged to have known her, to have experienced her ministrations and know the feeling of having her pray for them. Her funeral is to be Wednesday, at the church she grew up in and served. I don't think there will be an open spot in the pews. Afterwards, there will be a luncheon in her honor. I have been asked to help prepare an item for this luncheon. This is where Mildred's vice comes in (I can hear her giggling in heaven over me calling this a vice). My dear friend, Barb, posted a recipe on her blog The Tattooed Lady about Oreo BonBons. I made them once and Barb is right, these things are so rich and so chocolatey that to eat more than two would set your teeth on edge and put you into a chocolate coma. In other words, Mildred would have LOVED these things. So, for Mildred, with thanks to Barb (since I'm swiping her recipe here) are the Oreo Bonbons:

Oreo Bonbons

1 1 lb. package of oreos (you can use regular, mint or I have used peanut butter)
1 8 oz. package of cream cheese
1 12 oz. package of chocolate melts (candy wafers to melt to make chocolate molds)

Whirl oreos in food processor until they are a fine crumbled mess. Add cream cheese (which should be at room temp, easier to mix in) and continue to whirl until it looks like swamp mud in your food processor. Make walnut (or smaller) sized balls from this mixture and place on a cookie sheet. Chill for at least an hour to set up. When balls are chilled, melt the chocolate. Dip each ball in the melted chocolate and return to chill until chocolate is set.

I will take pics at the luncheon and post later. I am having trouble writing luncheon instead of what we usually refer to as a 'Dead Spread'....somehow I can see Mildred laughing, because we once talked about being happy at funerals and some of the ways we can make light and lift spirits, she thought Dead Spread was a funny way to say it instead of 'hanging your head, speaking in low, deep tones, and say "funeral luncheon"..... Mildred, honey, these are for your Dead Spread....Love ya!!!

Monday, January 18, 2010

Maybe It's about time I posted again.

It's been since November and all I have done is procrastinated about getting back on the blog-o-wheel and posting my innane thoughts. We have passed Thanksgiving, my middle two kids birthdays, Christmas Eve, Christmas, New Years, Epiphany and now we're into the middle of January and I HAVEN'T posted squat.

So in recap: Thanksgiving.....Hubby got a turkey fryer from his work (using somesort of point system...earn points for hours worked buy goodies with the points). We did the usual sides of green bean casserole (yes, the one with the mushrooms, mushroom soup and fried onions - hey I know some of you cringe and roll your eyes at canned soups, but if the masses clamor for it, who am I to tell them no), 'stuffing' -I should resort to calling it dressing, as it never gets stuffed into ANYTHING but the people around the table, mashed potatoes, gravy, devilled eggs, and this year, instead of the usual yogurt pie, I made a pumpkin dish. Eldest son's SO is enamoured of pumpkin, so we feed this to her to keep her sweet and the grandbabies coming around......Needless to say, the fried turkey is a definite do-over. It came out tender, succulent and oh-so-good. Only thing left was the carcass. We used no injectables or brines/marinades or the like, simply because we wanted to see how that sucker worked first. It did, so we might. I have pictures of the process, but since I am camera/computer illiterate when it comes to putting pictures on my blog, I'll have to wait until my youngest son finds them and shows me how to post them....until then....
(found and added 1/28/10)

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Next came the birthdays. Eldest daughter and youngest son have the same birthday, December 1st. We took FBD (first born daughter to the uninitated as to how I refer to my offspring) back to college (Cabrini ! Go Cavaliers) and stopped by the most wonderful diner in all of Wayne, PA for a birthday dinner for the two of was to be easy for me, no fighting over who 'got the birthday dinner on their birthday' this year and they each got to pick what they wanted. WRONG. To say we were all carrying a bit of bug in our systems was an understatement. YD (younger daughter) wouldn't eat at all and I looked at my dinner and felt green. We took her back to her dorm and beat feet for home, praying not to leave a perfectly good dinner on the side of the Pennsylvania turnpike....we were ALL sick the next week and it took another week for us not to look like carp washed up on the shore (yes, I said CARP, not crap - ya ever see a dead carp, not pretty).

December was unusual in that my father in law went in to the hospital for simple out patient procedure and while doing the pre-admit testing, they found a disintegrating heart valve. Quicker than spit, they had him on the operating room table and were filleting him to remove all the bad and replace it....he was in the hospital over the holidays and then had rehab, so we had a bit more running than usual to attend to (we live about an hour from the hospital he was in). Usually, for Christmas, we give him a gift card to his favorite grocery store....I know, it sounds inpersonal, but what do you get a 79 year old man who quite literally has everything he wants? - This year, I planned to do something different, and it did work out. Once before, when he was really sick, I made a number of platters up for him to pop in his freezer. This way, instead of cooking for himself when he felt better, he could just pop one in the microwave and have a full-course dinner. I planned to make up about two-weeks worth of dinners (the equivalent of what we would have spent on the gift card) and let him use them at his leisure, when he just didn't feel like cooking. His being hospitalized over the holidays made this an imperative for me this time. While he was in the hospital, I made an extra plate of whatever we were having and froze it. We had lasagna, kielbasa with sauerkraut (there's that kraut I made earlier), jambalaya, beef stroganoff, spaghetti, chicken soup, about 14 -15 selections in all....and his favorite...stuffed cabbage. These were delivered to him a couple days after he was released from rehab so at least I know he's getting his nutrition in him.

Christmas Eve started out like always. Some people tell you they are coming and don't, some want to know if they can at the last minute, some want you to change the times.....I'm seriously considering cancelling Christmas next year. Yeah, I said that last year as well.....I made my fish dinner as usual. Homemade mushroom soup, salmon, tilapia, a few sides and 'fish sticks' for the grandbabies. Eldest grandson ate his fish sticks in the pudding I made (yes, fish sticks in vanilla pudding fluff)...hey, as far as I'm concerned...he ate and that's what's important. The extendeds were here, eldest son, his SO, his ex, and ALL four of my grandbabies. The 'almost two' decided this was the year to 'climb the tree' look at him you wouldn't think he was part squirrel. They came, they ripped open their presents and they ate... I'm Southern by birth....we feed you. You're sick, we feed you, you celebrate, we feed die, well, we feed your I fed my family.
Here's the grandbabies: The Lovely Lucas, Bouncing Brennan, Curiously Cute Christian and Mighty Matt.

Christmas day was ham, kielbasa, potatoes , beans, devilled eggs for the immediate family...the out-laws all came on Christmas Eve...I got (ta-da) a few more cookbooks I have to try....

So, to my blogger followers who I have disappointed with my lack of postings, this is my New Year's resolution. I will try, cross my heart and hope to die, stick a finger in my eye, to post more than once every three months. I will tell you about my misadventures with food....I will tell you if Sweetcheeks likes it, if he doesn't or if I don't care one way or the other about what he wants for dinner.....I will tell you about my inexhaustible search for the ultimate cookbook, my cookbook collection and my adventures in trying to climb out from under the piles upon piles of cookbooks I already own and my rationale for buying/trading/inheriting/swapping more.

'til the Butter flys....