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Tuesday, February 14, 2012

Happy Birthday Mom!

My Mom's birthday is Valentine's Day and so of course we always made a BIG deal out of February 14th! My Mom always had little cards and small heart shaped boxes of candy for us, we'd troop off to school with our tiny Scooby Doo and Care Bears cards for our friends and then when we got home Mom would make a big pretty dinner for us all. There was usually some sort of spectacular main dish and a gorgeous dessert involved. I learned how butter is made from cream the time I tried to "help" her whip the cream for our chocolate mousse. I learned to strike matches to light the candles in our dining room. I fact I got so good at helping her with this ritual dinner that I threw her 30th birthday party myself when I was 11. I never did get her knack at twisting crepe paper so that it hangs "just so" but I can make a pretty table if I do say so myself.

Tonight in Mom's honor, since we can't be together, I am making the type of special occasion dinner she loves!


Standing rib roast, salted, peppered and rosemaried (thanks Ellen!)
Mashed potatoes
Sauteed green beans almondine
Seasoned corn niblets
Salad with cranberries and pecans
Red Velvet Cupcakes with Cream Cheese Frosting

Tuesday, February 7, 2012

Good-bye Pop.

My grandfather, affectionately known to me and pretty much everyone else as Pop, passed away last week at the age of 78. He had fought very hard against pancreatic cancer and in fact his cancer was in remission when he died. He had been terribly weakened by the cancer treatments and I think he was just tired and needed to rest. He went about death as he had lived life, determined to see things through to the end and make a quiet, dignified and undramatic exit.

My Pop had a wicked, dry sense of humor, an iron-clad sense of honor, integrity and justice and a great love of family. He loved being in the middle of our crazy, loud-mouthed parties, taking in the various scenes and spitting out witty observations and sarcastic remarks under his breath. I think we kept him pretty livened up actually with all of our messes. He seemed to enjoy watching us continually jump from the frying pan and into the fire, anyway. He was always there with some calm perspective when things got too chaotic and that is a rare and valuable quality, I've found.

My Pop also loved food, fried catfish, BBQ ribs, a glass of perfectly cold iced tea, but his description of the last meal he actually enjoyed here on Earth stays with me. "Your grandmother took me out to Dustin's and I got a sliced pork sandwich. I bit into it and your grandmother started to say something to me, but I held my hand up like this {Like a traffic cop telling someone to stop. -- Suzanne} and said, 'Wait. I just need a moment here.'" His eyes closed as he remembered the sandwich, his face was perfectly at peace, eyebrows slightly raised, small smile on his lips and I saw my funny, awesome grampa again, not the tired, aching version I had grown used to in the last year. It was the last time I saw him and it was a gift.


Dear Pop,

I know I will see you again someday and until then I promise to live a more adventurous and go-for-broke life so that when my time comes I can lay back as you did and say, "I look back on my life; try and see if there is something I missed, you know some sort of bucket list or whatever and really, there's nothing. I've lived a pretty great life." You really did have a great life, it had its share of sorrows and heartbreaks and tragedy, but you soldiered on, in fact you MARINE'D onward, (Semper Fi). I like to think you are with Uncle Michael right now, or visiting with your Mom and Dad or seeing old friends. I know that when we pass on we are at peace and want for nothing, so I know you aren't missing us, but oh, we miss you. It will be hard to get along without you, but you raised us all to be strong and we will get through. Cowboy movies will be hard to watch, and catfish frys may put a lump in my throat after this, but we will get through. Save us a place at the table and tell Gramma T hi from me and the girls. They still talk about her cookies and I miss talking on the phone with her and getting her e-mails. I miss your hugs. I promise to look after my Mom and Mema. I promise to be more patient helping Sarah with her math. I promise to tell Bella stories about her "Poppy".

Love you,