I lost my mom last week. The Original Brownie Queen. No matter how you get this type of news, it’s devastating.
My mom was in her 90s, so I definitely am grateful to have had her around as long as I did. But it still just completely leveled me. It’s my mom. The woman who dressed my knee when I fell down. The woman who made me chicken soup when I was sick. The woman who told me it would be ok when I was afraid of the dark. The woman who gave me my sister and best friend, Judi. And the woman who taught me how to bake brownies. My mom was the Original Brownie Queen. She expressed her love for us through baking. And, now she’s gone.
I got the news while in a business meeting in San Francisco. It is not the place to get that kind of news. It sent me into a bit of a glassy eyed fog. All I really wanted to do was crawl into a shell, and it was hard to focus on business. This was a critical meeting and I was the only female. I struggled to hold my emotions in check. Don’t get me wrong, the people surrounding me were incredibly understanding and supportive. But I don’t know anyone who wants to cry around work colleagues.
One more meeting after that, a dinner and finally back to my hotel where I lost it. One of those blubbery cries where you just can’t even catch your breath. It felt cathartic. I needed that cry. I went through an entire gross of tissues. And not the good tissues, either. The kind that hurt after using the third one. No matter how fine the hotel, sandpaper seems to be at the core of hotel tissue (don’t get me started on the toilet paper). I think my cry wasn’t just the cry of the loss of my mom, but also my dad (years ago), the loneliness of now being without either parent to catch me when I fall, and the reality of my own immortality and that of those around me.
Life is precious and moments like these remind me of what’s most important in life. I think the blessing for me is knowing that the passion my grandmother and mother both had for baking lives on in me. And I get to continually share their gift with the world. I am extremely grateful my mother was around to see some of the success of Brownie Brittle. I still wish my father and grandmother could have seen it.
Thank you to those who helped me get through this terrible time with their calls, texts, emails, sending of food and love. To my son Devin who was there to hold me up, and my daughter Rachael who through her own shock and grief pulled it together and made all of our flight reservations so I could just focus on getting back home from San Francisco. And thank you to Nancy Eichler, our VP for picking up the slack and putting out all the fires while I was away – not to mention straightening out our hotel reservations which I had no business trying to make while in my stupor. Most of all, thank you to my sister Judi who I passed the “baton” to three years ago when my mother decided to leave us and move back to Syracuse and go into assisted living. It became my sister’s mission to make sure that our mother was happy and safe. And she more than succeeded. Our mother became her number one priority, and because of that her last few years were lived with dignity and an abundance of love.
I often express my love for those around me by baking, just like my mother and grandmother. This week has been filled with the funeral, dealing with estate issues, and all the business of losing a loved one. I’m looking forward to getting back to my own house, buttering up a sheet pan and baking one pan of brownies in honor of you, Mom. Thank you for sharing your gift. Say, “Hi,” to Dad and Grandma. I love you and I miss you.
Figure 2 – (L to R) Hilda Diamond, Sheila Mains