Saturday, May 12, 2012

Mother's Day and a Giant Rhubarb Plant

My mom was always so elegant-I don't remember her every wearing jeans,always in a dress and hair perfectly done

Mother's Day used to bring up so many conflicts and anxiety for me.  My mom and I had a very challenging relationship to say the least. And it took me a very long time to understand and accept her issues and my own.  My mom was seventeen when she was married. She was eighteen when I was born.  Even for the 1950's that was a young age to be a wife much less a mother. And she had no role model, my grandmother had died when my mom was only thirteen.

At a time when other women were exploring life or going to college, my mom was having a baby (me). She was pretty much alone since my Dad was away most of the time in the Marine Corp or working all day and going to night school.  We lived on a Marine  base at Cherry Point,NC for a bit. I was too young to remember anything about it but I remember seeing pictures of myself and my mom-she looked happy at the time. Then three years later my sister was born and three years after that came my brother. Growing up, most of our childhood was overshadowed by my mother's unhappiness and discontent with her life.  Alcoholism and addiction to prescribed drugs (in those days they prescribed Valium and a list of others like they were giving out gummy vitamins) just made things worse. Then she lost both of  her sisters in a plane crash and a few months later her father died. It wasn't too long after my grandfather's death that my mother took her own life.  At the time, besides feeling an incredible sadness, confusion and loneliness, I also felt relief.  No more fighting and no more drinking . But also no more Mom.

Mom teaching me how to look stylish while learning how to swim

It took a long time for me to let go of the "dark side" of my childhood and the sad memories of my mom along with the anger I felt towards her.  But I eventually did.   Now I can remember with sweetness, the moments growing up when life was fun. Working side by side with my mom in her beautiful garden in our backyard;learning from her how to set in tomato plants; how to sprinkle just the right amount of salt on a freshly picked tomato that still had the warmth of the sun in it; how to squish tomato bugs between leaves so you wouldn't get the bug all over you and just how good fresh picked watermelon tasted with just a little sprinkle of salt. She taught me how to catch lightening bugs in jars;how to plant lilies; how to grow the most fragrant roses and how to sit up straight and walk properly like a young lady should.

 And mom taught me how to bake and cook.  She was always the one who hosted the huge family dinners over the holidays. And for days she would  bake nut roll and cold dough cakes; breaded pork chops and city chicken and her famous potato salad . When our entire family sat down for one of those dinners there was barely enough room on the table for your plate !  My sister and I , to this day, load up the holiday table with food and baked goods,just like mom.  It took a lot of growing up on my part ,coupled with counseling , to be able to appreciate and remember the sweet funny mom who shared herself with me during special moments. And those are the times I remember now.

And tomorrow for Mother's Day, I'm going to sip some rhubarb soda water (we had a huge rhubarb plant in my mom's garden and now I have my own giant rhubarb plant) while I'm sitting out on the back deck admiring my vegetable garden and remembering my time with my mom. Happy Mother's Day everyone. Now go and give your mom a huge hug and kiss, don't let the moment get away.

I was completely inspired  to make this rhubarb syrup by Heidi who has a beautiful blog called 101 Cookbooks. You can find the recipe and her stunning photos here . If you want to try something different with rhubarb this is the recipe to try. The drink is so refreshing and takes me back to the scent of my mom's roses and our time in the garden. "Cin Cin", here's to you mom, wherever you are, I know you are watching and proud of the woman I've become.


yummychunklet said...

Cute drink!

mireia badia said...

Never tried Rhubarb, the recipe looks great!!

Seattle Pastry Girl said...

@yummychunklet -thank you and @mireia it is delicious-I'm addicted seriously-going outside to pick some more rhubarb this afternoon

bellini said...

Our relationship with our parents is not always what we hoped but there are plenty of great memories to cherish as well.I remember sitting in my neighbours rhubarb patch with a bowl of sugar munching away on stalk after stalk of crispy rhubarb.