Six years ago, today, St Pat's... we all gathered at Mom's house for dinner. St Pat's wasn't a huge deal for us (not like Christmas Eve), but Mom always made sure we had out corned beef and cabbage that day, sort of an acknowledgment of the Irish blood from my father's side. Let's face it.. a meal like this is something even a big Guinea like me can enjoy a few times a year. My sister, all my brothers and I gathered around the old table we grew up at. Mom cooked up a serious feast for us... beef, cabbage, potatoes, soda bread (two kinds I think)...beer for the older ones- even Mom had some. We took our time going through the meal... savoring every bite; taking a lot of time to talk and share and just be together. This was a big deal for Mom, to have all of her kids together under one roof like we had always been- it was not something that happened all that often anymore.
This dinner was special for more than that though... this was the day before Mom was going back to the hospital... she had high hopes of something new that was gonna knock the crap outta what was eating at her insides. So while the atmosphere seemed a happy one... lots of laughs and joking around... there was an underlying concern. We all knew this was serious stuff...
The meal was great though... we all ate till we couldn't fit anymore and then we added just a little more. I was not all that happy to be leaving that night, but I had to work the next day, so off I went after a pot or two of coffee.
That turned out to be the last meal Mom cooked for me. We shared a few more meals... I knew she needed to eat to keep up her strength but that there was no way she'd be able to eat much of the hospital food, so I went home everyday and cooked a meal to bring to her. I still remember sitting there and having dinner with her one night when I made Chicken and Penne Arrabiata. I added a lot of hot peppers because the treatments were killing her tastebuds... the smile on her face at the first bite... brings tears to my eyes... "ahh- the fist thing I have been able to taste all week!!"
I brought her food for the first couple of weeks, but her appetite was waning as the medication and treatments took their toll. All my life, that was the only time we knew for sure when Mom was really not feeling well... lost her appetite.
And here we are, back to St Pat's again... I eat my corned beef, potatoes, and cabbage- a meal Mom and I shared many times, and remember that Last Supper. Time has a way of slipping by way too fast, but the memories never fade... like it was yesterday.
So load up your plate- get your fill of beef and cabbage and potatoes. Raise a glass- of Guinness, Harp, Pellegrino, or whatever- and toast the cook. Wear your best green and a big grin... we're all Irish today. 'Cause Johnny Tomatoes says so!!
"... And until I see you again, may God hold you in the palm of his hand..."
Miss you Mom