Archive | February, 2014

She is a Light that Still Shines on Me

10 Feb

Phyllis Danzig

It is exactly 20 years today since my mother passed away. I have had many thoughts over the last few days about what I would want to write to commemorate her. Twenty years is a long time. If you’ve read my posts before, you know that I have a pretty easy time focusing on the positive and celebrating my mom.  But sometimes (and I know you’ll understand), I get mad and maudlin that she’s gone at all.  I was having one of those moments while watching the very special and wonderful Beatles 50th Anniversary Show last night. And, just then, John Legend and Alicia Keys sang, “Let it Be.” Those of us who thought the Mother Mary in the song was the Virgin Mary, found out that we were mistaken. Paul McCartney was inspired to write the song when he had a dream about his mom speaking to him.  “He also said in a later interview about the dream that his mother had told him ‘It will be all right, just let it be’” (Wikipedia and multiple sources).  And, that is just what happens to me over and over again. Even throughout the last twenty years, just as she did during the thirty years we shared, my mom whispers to me. She doesn’t always tell me to let things be. Sometimes, she tells me what action to take or how to react. I have written about the risks ( she encouraged me to take and how I still “listen” to her. I am just so glad and so fortunate that I can still hear her voice and feel her wisdom.

Watching the show last night and thinking about the crazy 1960’s, I realized I do not know much about how my mom felt about The Beatles.  I do not think she was crazy about them. I know about some of the music she liked (, but not a lot. I would love to know her reaction to the Feb. 9, 1964 Ed Sullivan show, which incidentally, happened when she was about 6 months pregnant with me! I know details about where she was (Bloomingdales in NYC) and how she reacted when JFK was shot and she was a few months pregnant with me, but nothing about The Beatles.

I do know that, especially now, I am grateful to Paul McCartney for putting into words the feeling I have had for the past twenty years. One of the ways that I have coped with being a motherless daughter is by letting it be.  It is so true that

“When I find myself in times of trouble
Mother Mary (Phyllis) comes to me
Speaking words of wisdom, let it be
And in my hour of darkness
She is standing right in front of me
Speaking words of wisdom, let it be…”


And, I am very lucky that because Phyllis Danzig was my mom, “There is still a light that shines on me.”

The Aromas Still Linger

3 Feb

roasted soybeansI’m so glad to back to writing after another hiatus. My break from writing is not due to any change in how often or how intensely I think about my mom. I should really keep track of the number of times I read (in books, magazine/newspaper articles, other blogs, etc.) sentiment similar to mine: No matter how long my mom has been gone (now 20 years), she is very much a part of my daily existence. And, so when I saw a recipe for roasted chickpeas recently,, I felt compelled to write about my mom’s roasted soybeans.

Back in my July 7, 2011 post, I wrote “As I have become increasingly obsessed with quinoa, I keep flashing back to the time that my mom first roasted soybeans. It was 1980: I had just turned 16 and she had just quit smoking. To help herself, she became vigilant about not smoking and living a healthy life.” It is true that her healthy snack made me very sick since, at the time, we did not realize that my peanut allergy extended to most legumes, including soybeans. If you have ever smelled freshly roasted soybeans, you will recall being coerced into eating a handful simply because of the aroma. So, as I ate her fresh-out-of-the-oven salty soybeans, my mouth felt the typical allergic itch and I soon realized that “healthy” or not, this snack would be placed on my tantalizing and inedible list.

For me and, I imagine, for most daughters (and even sons), our mom’s food interests and cooking are some of the most memorable, inspiring and even eternal connections we have to her. Recipes are often passed down to many generations. I have written about and, even more importantly, passionately spoken to my children about my mom’s specialties. It’s not just her secret for sweet chicken soup (parsnips), but the meals we shared and obsessed over that help keep her in my everyday thoughts. And, just as I am writing this, I realize that yet another recent experience brought back warm and delicious food memories. My family spent a few days in NYC over this past Christmas holiday and after the typical Christmas movie outing, we stopped into the TickTock Diner. My daughter ordered and relished their French Onion Soup (without the glutenous bread). I immediately reminisced about the lunch my mom and I shared during a day we spent at the Metropolitan Museum of Art. We each ordered their French Onion Soup and, either because we were starving or because it truly deserved the accolade, we rated it the best we’d ever had. Soon after, my mom topped theirs by making her own.  She even served it in the classic crock-bowl. So, after we got back home from our NYC adventure, I found a recipe, bought the ingredients and made the new best French Onion Soup my family has ever enjoyed.

This brings me to ask YOU and hopefully help you recall some of your mom’s special recipes or delicious food adventures you shared with your mom. Please share!