Today is one of those snuggle with a quilt and eat soup days. Chilly and damp makes me crave soup and wool socks. As I was chopping and slicing vegetables and chicken for homemade soup, I was remembering who taught me how to cook. Well, no surprise here, that was my mom. I have told you before what an amazing cook she is because she pays attention to details. But there was a time when Mary Poppins came to live with us.
My Mary Poppins came in a tiny package of about 5’2″. She was a Nun, so we called her Sister. Sister had a data base of recipes in her brain that would shame Martha Stewart. She was the worlds first recycler, and could make anything with a piece of string and a bit of felt. Sister had to be the inspiration for MacGyver. She had gray hair and glasses, always wore a dress with stockings and donned an apron. Never heard of one?
A garment, usually fastened in the back, worn over all or part of the front of the body to protect clothing.
In the old days, every woman born BEFORE 1945 always wore an apron. My Mary Poppins was no exception. She was born to a farming family of 14 children, might be 13, they always said they had 13 brothers and sisters. I imagine you learned to eat or be eaten. She was my Grandfather’s OLDER sister. To me Grandpa was OLD so his sister must have been 100. But the reality is she was likely in her late 60’s, and NO THAT IS NOT MIDDLE AGED!
There was a time in my family’s life that we needed some divine intervention to help with the work load of Mom’s crazy new job that had her working easily 18 hours a day, 5 kids ( we had 2 foster siblings – dad collected kids like hockey cards), Dad’s teaching career meant a TON of extra curricular work, and our family had enough laundry that made the Rockies look small. When Sister came for a visit and all my mom could think was – crap, more work for me to do. Sister took one look at my mom and her usually spotless and amazingly organized home, called her Order and said “my family is in crisis I need to stay for a while”. And stay she did. I think it was for 6 months, I know I must be wrong, but it felt like a really long time.
I loved coming home and Sister would have made soup and spaetzle
or fresh bread, or Jam Jams ( the most amazing cookie is the world!). The house always smelled scrumptious. I would hear about special crafts that she would do with my sister. Watch her help my brother with homework every night. She would help me with needle work or crochet work that I was learning to do. She could untangle ANYTHING from gold chains to yarn. To me, all that was missing was a tea party on the ceiling. We loved her to bits. Just never ask her to pray for you.
Every time she said a prayer to some patron saint, something would go horribly wrong. Bringing a cake to my Grandma’s for dinner. Sister said a prayer to the patron saint of cakes. The Cake ended up on the dashboard. Every time she said, “I will say a prayer”, we all yelled NO! She would laugh….pray anyway and some horrible plague would befall the family.
I often wonder if the stress of that time would have been too much for my parents to over come. Luckily we never needed to find out. I’m sad my children never got to meet her. However her legacy of amazingness lives on. She taught my and my siblings so much, but more then that she taught kindness, compassion and the meaning of family first.