Mannkitchen Day is March 25, my Moms birthday.
When Coke Oines was six, her mother renovated and re-floored a bedroom in their home so that Coke (who was already unusually tall) could take ballet and “hopefully be graceful”. My Grandmother Lenore organized the class and hired a teacher. On the day of the first class, the teacher came downstairs crying because little Coke had disagreed with her and commanded the entire class to stop dancing and sit on the bed. Those little girls sat on the bed and wouldn’t budge for the teacher, which hints at the type of will my mother had.
My grandmother once told her, “May you have seven children. Just. Like. You.” At the time, my Mom considered this quite a blessing. After all, who wouldn’t want 7 perfect children? The weight of this proclamation wasn’t fully appreciated until her third child arrived. It isn’t proven, but when a parent hoping for 7 children voluntarily stops at three, it’s unlikely due to the last child possessing 5 kids worth of perfection. Regardless of the cause, my Mothers desire for additional perfect children was satisfied with me.
In our family of five, she and I are most alike. Coke and Cleve. Our similar wills resulted in some tumult in the early years, as I was frequently wrong but seldom in doubt. It’s uncanny how two people so unerring still manage to disagree.
Mom and I are similar in temperament, ballet skills, and cooking interest. Most of my early memories are around a table, sharing something wonderful she made. When I refused to eat oatmeal as a child, she showed me how to light the propane stove (with matches!) and granted me unfettered access to the spice rack, fridge, and her well loved collection of cast iron skillets.
“If you’d like something else, you can make it yourself.” This remains worthy advice, especially outside the kitchen. Looking back, the evidence of her consistently redirecting my willfulness and guiding me in productive directions is clear.
Not everyone gets a great Mom. I did, and I’m grateful. If you’re lucky enough have a Mom who’s still kicking, call her.
Please join me in gratitude for those you love on Mannkitchen Day, by making a memory around the table together.
Happy Birthday Mom. I love you.