Traverse City Record-Eagle

Edna Shaffer: Grandma's Kitchen

May 18, 2009

Edna Shaffer: We can manage the unthinkable


Amazing how the unthinkable becomes the norm. Our mom was faithful beyond belief. When many spouses would have considered their work done, Mom continued. For four years, regardless of the weather, she took care of Dad daily as if he was her baby. She kept him clean, brushed his teeth, fed him and fiercely advocated on his behalf. She put off her own serious health needs. My sisters and I knew she was thoroughly exhausted. When Dad left us on a quiet December morning, we wondered what would become of Mom. While we were wondering, she was making a road by walking.

The last five months have been filled with many difficult days, but the buzzword for May is "restore." As the hillsides and the woodlands come alive with new birth, I witness my mom returning to her new, old self. An appetite starts to emerge, she forgets to use her walker, she washes her own hair, she wanders outside to water her beloved perennials, she makes a grocery list. Her voice is strong, her to-do list grows, her plans for the summer take shape, she laughs on the phone. We are on an upward trajectory without interference from the hard days of setbacks. This amazing woman, who I am fortunate to share Mother's Day with again this May, has not written her final chapter. You can look forward to hearing from her again as she continues to make the road in her incredible life.

Those of you who grew up on potlucks may recognize some variation of the following recipe. This is a dish prepared by one of our mom's dearest friends, Gwen Copeland.

Gwen Copeland's Good Neighbor Casserole

12 slices whole grain bread

4 c. diced chicken (just about a whole chicken)

1 c. chopped celery

1 c. chopped green pepper

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