I concocted Tiff's Pot Roasty (oasty oasty) today for the Family Dinner. It was a big hit, and Girl only squirted a little ketchup on it (grrr...). Delicious! I'm a hero again. As the meal was winding down, Mrs. Spiffy asked me where I learned to cook. I thought following directions was a pretty easy way to make food turn out well, but I had to say my mom taught me the basics ("Don't light the house on fire and follow the directions."). Then she asked me for my favorite memory of my mom. I fell silent. I couldn't think of one. For several minutes, I sat blankly, sadly, empty. She spoke up. "I have lots!" she volunteered. There was the time at my in-laws' brand new, beautiful and very swanky log-cabin home that mom was found under an end table, playing with all the young kids. Then she would sing them songs and bounce them on her knees. Another time while helping paint our first house, my father-in-law came running to my mom, a registered nurse. "Phyllis, please help! My finger is stuck in the paint roller!" She tenderly, gingerly unscrewed the roller from his finger, taking care not to cause any pain. "That was fun!" he said, jamming it back on. She looked so concerned for his safety. The more I thought about it, the more memories came rolling back. Most involving neighbor kids (our house was the local gathering place, and the fridge was open to anyone), Campfire Girls (she was the council chairwoman and a group leader for some time), and food. She taught a lesson to a campfire group, hanging a paper sign on each girl's neck that read, "IALAC," which stands for I Am Lovable And Capable. Any time someone would hear a put-down or unkind word, they were to tear off a little chunk of their own sign and hand it to the offending party. In 30 minutes, rudeness and insults disappeared from a group of 15 girls. No matter who was over or what was going on, she was always trying to feed them. Never fancy, always friendly, she would make anyone feel welcome. She was very creative, intelligent, and had a goofy sense of humor (after the 7th chorus of "Three Short-Necked Buzzards," it was more goofy than humor). Most of my personal memories, unfortunately, involve me trying to leave. I resisted her authority regularly, either by argument, manipulation, or flat-out disobedience. As a youngster I would climb out my bedroom window onto the porch roof and down the tall pine tree to escape a grounding or early bedtime. When I gained my driver's license, I was home as little as possible. I tried moving out twice before finally (finally - at 20 years old) getting married and leaving for good. The reasons for all this escapism escape me. I'd like to think I was running toward something, because I sure can't figure out what I could have been running away from. Mom has MS. She's been in a nursing home about 2 hours from my home for several years, unable to get out of bed, walk, or even straighten her legs. She is in constant pain, especially if anyone touches the bed or her. She can't read my blog, write to friends, hold a phone, hold my kids, or even hold a conversation most days. I miss her.