Saturday, April 25, 2009

I had communion at Max and Erma;s

We are in Florida with my parents enjoying their company relaxing, seeing family and just having fun.  I woke early and went for a walk and listened to my ipod.  For some reason when I walk I love to listen to gospel music.  Today it was Ben Harper and the Blind Boys of Alabama.  Awesome and so comforting.  As I walked I realized that whenever I am with family I feel like all is right with the world.  The talking and laughing and sometimes being very serious about life and its challenges brings me back to the very sweet spot in my life.  I feel whole once again.  

Friday we were in the airport in Northern Kentucky and had lunch.  I had a reuben and Lee had a club sandwich.  Of course these are our respective faves and for me the subject of one of my blogs.  Our waitress was so friendly and she asked us if we were enjoying our food.  Being a foodie I had a deep discussion with her about the merits of Lee's club sandwich and the reuben.  She loves the reubens there too and I of course had to tell her about my decades long reuben phobia and my eventual return to the bosom of reubens courtesy of my mom.  She looked at me with a deep wistfulness in her eyes and said when she was young her Mom grew rhubarb and made delectable rhubarb pies.  She left home at a very young age and didn't have opportunities to visit with her family.  The last time she saw her Mom was five years ago and she now has a daughter approaching adulthood who hadn't had much time with her grandparents let alone time to enjoy a pie that was the family holy grail.  I was so taken aback and a rush of sadness washed over me.  She clearly understood and experienced that sense of time that can never be regained.  Somewhat haltingly she told me she didn't know what family meant when she was younger.  It was apparent that as a parent she now saw clearly both sides of the coin of youth and connection.  There were some long moments when we just looked at each other and shared that deeper knowing.  I think we were both teary eyed - not the usual fare for lunch at Max and Erma's.  

Just when I thought all was lost for her she perked up and said, "but now my Mom is coming to live with me."  I was so excited.  She explained that her Mom lived in North Dakota and had just had it with the winters and was coming to stay.  Her Dad had five more years to work until retirement and her parents were willing to be separated to deal with weather and the lack of family in their lives.  Her Dad had come out for her daughter's high school graduation and brought boxes of her mother's things.  She told me how excited she was just looking at the boxes carefully labelled in her mother's writing.  I told her she needed to get some rhubarb and freeze it to finally have wonderful pie to make up for the long years of sacrifice.  A big smile arced across her face as she blurted out  "Mom is digging up her rhubarb roots and all and bringing it with her!"  I was thrilled to think that she would soon have pie from those same wonderful plants that fed her in childhood.  Better than rhubarb pie would be the time she would share with her Mom.

It was certainly a humble meal in most respects.  However it became communion over a reuben and a club sandwich.  It was a wonderful reminder of the precious times with those we love over good food and talk that becomes a celebration of communion and love in the face of life's challenges. Amen.

Rhubarb Compote

This is good warm or cold and especially a treat with ice cream or angel food cake.

10 stalks of rhubarb cleaned and trimmed.  Cut each stalk in 1/3 inch pieces.
1/2 to 3/4 C. sugar
1 1/2 C. orange juice

Place the pieces of rhubarb in a pot and cover with water.  Bring to a simmer and simmer gently until just tender.  Drain the water and add 1/2 C. sugar and orange juice.  Bring to a simmer and cook gently until the rhubarb begins to fall apart.  Stir frequently.  Check to make sure the rhubarb is sweet to taste.  If it is too tart add a little more sugar and cook to dissolve the sugar.  Cool and serve warm or place in the refrigerator to chill.

I like it all by itself.  You can also substitute unsweetened apple juice for the orange juice.


  1. Once again, your writing touches my heart. thank you, dear friend.
    Donna (r-S) ):

  2. thank you, thank you-my momma made delicious rhubarb cooked (and grew ours also).
    for just a moment, she was "here" with me--thank you. your buddy,donna (r-s)

  3. ok,this one is sooooo much a keeper. i got misty reading it. and it's so much like you to make a connection with a person that many would not even consider. you are the best! btw, i love rhubarb. i will have to get some soon.

  4. Another delightfully touching account. I'm happy to hear you are having such a fun time with your family in Florida. I'd say, bring a little sunshine and heat back north with you, but it has been blistering hot here on the "north coast" all weekend. And, I've never eaten rhubarb!