It was in my Mother’s kitchen

Pauline Landis Hoener was Kathleen's role model


When you think of your Mother, what memories come flooding back? I still remember the smell of her makeup when I watched her get ready for work. I remember her laugh, especially when she was with her siblings and they were sharing childhood adventures.

I remember how proud I was when I discovered she served in the Women’s Army Corps (WACs) during World War II. I love the pictures of her in her uniform but most of all, I love the pictures with the hats and gloves that she and her friends wore back in the day.

Style and grace were the watchwords of her generation. Is it any wonder that my outfits and hairdos, years later in the 1960’s, caused her such discomfort?

But most of all I remember her in the kitchen. My Mother’s kitchen always had coffee on the stove. It didn’t matter when it was made it was always ready to be reheated. And if someone stopped by or when my Dad came home, the first question was always the same – “would you like a cup of coffee?” and the answer was always, “why, yes I would”.

When I was little, in the evenings we would sit in the living room and listen to the radio. Eventually, a television replaced the radio, except for music. My Mother loved to dance.

But when company came, whether it was family, friends or neighbors, the adults sat at the table in the kitchen with their coffee and cigarettes and the kids gathered under the table, hoping they wouldn’t be noticed and shooed out of the room. Because when company came, so did all the great stories about our parents and their childhood and courtships.

It was while sitting under the kitchen table that I learned my Mother had been engaged seven times before she married my Dad. And that her family had a real mean turkey that used to chase her brothers and sisters into the outhouse where they had to wait to be rescued.

I think one of my favorite stories was the one about the boys coming in from the fields because a storm was coming up, at the same time my aunt was sent out to gather the bedsheets off the clothesline. My aunt was barely five feet tall and a gust of wind blew the sheets over her entire body, just as the boys came into the yard. The boys started yelling about a ghost in the yard and my aunt took off running toward the house to get away from it, right behind the boys. The first one to reach the porch ran right through the screen door.

The pictures in my head after hearing these stories were so vivid, I could literally see the events as they happened.

It was in my Mother’s kitchen where the pressure cooker exploded while she was attempting her first batch of tomato sauce. To this day I can’t use one.

Most of the recipes she made remain in my family. She was a wonderful cook and after my Dad died she made it her profession. But it wasn’t just the food she prepared. It was knowing that the food was made with love, like everything else that happened in her kitchen.

It was in my Mother’s kitchen, over a cup of coffee, that I told her she would become a grandmother for the first time, and years later where she learned her first great-grandchild was on the way. Some of the few times tears were a part of the kitchen, but they were tears of joy.

And so it was, when I had a kitchen of my own, the tradition continued on. The coffee pot, if not already on is ready to go. The food – both the triumphs and disasters are made with love in my heart. The stories have changed but the laughter continues.

Through good times and bad, everything I needed to know about life was learned in my Mother’s kitchen.

Thanks Mom.


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