Like many people, my relationship with my mother is good but problematic - problem being that I turn into a whiny 16 year old around her. This is even *less* pretty on a 40 year old. So I don't call or see her often enough.
Last Wednesday I realized I'd made a beef stew more or less according to her recipe, so I called her up to tell her, and while I was talking, and to my surprise, I asked her to come visit us on Sunday, and she accepted.
I never ask her to do that. But the public rooms are in decent shape and, well, why not? And, instead of going out to lunch as we normally do, I cooked. I made quiche.
Quiche is amazingly easy, especially if you buy the pie crusts, which I do. My hands are small, but strong - made for kneading and chopping and beating, not for rolling out pastry dough. They flatten pastry dough. So, I buy the crusts. Then you make a mixture of milk and eggs - about a cup and half for four eggs. I have to say, I didn't measure at all. I beat four eggs and poured in what looked like enough milk and mixed them. It's really hard to mess that up, and I didn't.
The first quiche was onion and cheddar. I cooked the onions in a mixture of butter and olive oil. I almost never cook with butter - the onions smelled divine. When they were soft and sweet, I piled them in one of the pie crusts and covered them with grated cheddar cheese, and then poured the custard over them until about 1/4" from the top, and mixed it a little to make sure it was distributed evenly, and slid it into the 350 oven. The second was to be spinach and swiss, but it turned out I had no spinach. So, it was just swiss cheese, cut into strips (couldn't find a block in the supermarket) and the custard, with a pinch or so of allspice. I had to make more custard, so I mixed an egg with more milk. At that point, I really wished I'd had Bac-O's to make a mock Lorraine.
And I made a salad out of spring greens, grape tomatoes and a fast dressing of olive oil, balsamic vinegar, pepper and oregano.
Yes, this lunch called for a glass of white wine, but my mother doesn't like wine, so we had selzer. And we finished with coffee with real milk in it.
And we chatted and it was lovely. I showed her my fancy new cookbook and my husband surfed eBay for a new Settlement Cookbook to replace the one she'd lost in the fire. He didn't find one (or, rather, he found several, but not the year she wanted) but he did find her a mah jong set, and she's been wanting one of those for years and years, since her last one was destroyed in a flooded basement. So he bought it and it'll be sent directly to her house. And she left so she could get home before dark.
And I behaved like a grown-up the entire time.
However, the day had a sad ending.
Soc.culture.jewish was always a highly contentious newsgroup. Not only did it have the normal spam and the weirdos attracted by the name, and the occasional missionary (those never lasted long), but the normal posters were a loud and argumentative bunch, with the constant OCR (Orthodox/Conservative/Reform) wars - major hotheads on all sides, plus the admixture of atheists to add spice to all of it.
Later on, a moderated group was formed, which took care of the spam and the weirdos and the missionaries, and toned down the wars, but didn't stop them.
And through all of that, there was one man who was respected on all sides and by everyone. He diffused arguments with humor or with knowlege and always with gentleness. I think only one man managed to make him angry, and he was universally despised for it.
Occasionally, he'd disappear to go to Israel, and then he'd be missed and he'd return with a new name in the space in his .sig reserved for grandchildren.
And when I came down with chicken pox, he called me from Baltimore. We'd never met in person, you understand, but he called me because I was ill - an act of kindness I will never forget.
When *he* became ill, he asked for psalms to be said, and I believe everyone, from the most right wing Chasid to the most ardent atheist, complied because losing him was unthinkable. And it worked for a time - he went into remission. He added more names to the .sig. When someone else became ill, he called that person daily to give him strength, even as his own battle began again.
He died this past Saturday, and I'm crying even as I write this. The world is a much poorer place now, except as he left a lasting legacy in the form of his children and his students (he was a math oops, sorry. Psychology. Thank you, zsero. professor) and in the memories of those of us who met him one way or another.
May the memory of a tzaddik be for a blessing.