42: Reconnecting

42: Reconnecting

From Chicken Soup for the Soul: My Amazing Mom


Context and memory play powerful roles in all the truly great meals in one’s life.

~Anthony Bourdain

Not long after my mother died, I turned to the bookstore to start the grieving and healing process. I could always depend on Chicken Soup for the Soul books to get me through a tough time, whether it was when I was a teenager and having boy problems, or when I was an adult needing a bit of inspiration. Now here I was, at the age of thirty, looking for some comfort beyond what I could get from friends and family. I needed to read stories by people who were in the same situation as me.

I had lost my grandfather while I was in high school, but this was different. This was my mother. And unfortunately, I had regrets—unfinished business with her, unsaid words and stories.

The funeral was over, and I was supposed to go back to “normal life” without her in it. The pain was raw and sometimes unbearable.

I bought Chicken Soup for the Soul: Grieving and Recovery. The stories of loss and pain made my cry, but at the same time it was comforting to know I wasn’t alone. I was reading stories that were much like my own, that I could relate to. One story that really helped was “My Mother’s Recipe Box” by Sally Schwartz Friedman. The title caught my attention immediately because my mother loved cooking, watching cooking channels, and keeping record of recipes in all her notebooks. Toward the end of her life, when she was in and out of the hospital, those recipes and cooking shows kept her entertained.

That story inspired me to gather up all five of my mother’s recipe notebooks and put them together to make a cookbook. There were so many great recipes that I wanted to share with my friends and family. Since Mom never got to make most of the recipes, I would! I knew I had to do this for her. Although many of the recipes were not her own and had not been passed down through the family, they had obviously meant something to her, and it would be a shame for them to just sit in a box in the closet.

I decided to put Mom’s handwritten recipe on one side of the page and the typed version of it on the other. There’s something very comforting about her handwritten notes. I can hear her voice reading those recipes to me, and she doesn’t seem so far away. I just wish she could be here to taste the recipes that she never got to try. But you know what, Mom? I will eat enough for both of us.

~Angelena Shepard

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