Hi Darling Ones,
My plan tonight was to write about rereading Are You There, God? It’s Me Margaret. this afternoon. It was gonna be a humdinger. I know this because when I was telling my friend EM about we both laughed until we cried.
But then as I was settling in with my leftover meatloaf dinner I got a text from Sister #2 that our childhood best friend’s mom died this morning. Jan had been on her way out for awhile. Her dementia had gotten so bad these past few years that she didn’t even recognize her own daughter anymore.
When I texted Jodi (yes, we have the same name) my condolences she said they’d been prepared for her to go all week. Jodi and her sisters were with their mom when she died.
Jodi’s mom was a difficult and complicated woman. She was also, as I told Jodi this evening, very kind to me when I needed it most. I get choked up just typing that sentence.
My parents basically abandoned me and absconded with my sisters to Wisconsin the summer I turned 17.
My cousin, her husband, and three small kids moved into our house and I was relegated to the basement. I don’t talk about this often because the whole things is complicate and it was awful. Even after 33 years, all those feelings are still right at the surface and again, crying just remembering it.
I spent as much time as I could away from the basement hovel I was living in and since I had no money, no car, and no job, I mostly hung out at Jodi’s house. She lived kitty-corner across the street and we became super tight when my family moved away.
Thankfully, Jodi’s mom liked me and as far as I know she never complained about the time I spent there or all the food I ate. If it weren’t for Jodi’s family, I would have had to survive on school lunches and not much else. I think Jodi’s mom recognized that I was abandoned and floundering. She took an interest in what I was doing in school and encouraged me to pursue college. By the spring of my senior year, Jodi’s mom would tell her to call me when dinner was ready, and sometimes she’d ask ahead of time if I was coming for dinner.
My all-time favorite dish she made was chicken and Rice-a-Roni. This was when Jodi brought over the day I landed in my empty childhood home devoid of food, furniture, and family. I’d never had Rice-a-Roni before. It was not in my hates-to-cook mom’s limited repertoire. Jodi’s mom always made sure I was there for Rice-a-Roni night.
I don’t know if you’ve ever gone through a long period of time with food insecurity, but let me tell you this was a big deal to me. I’m 85% certain I was not as outwardly, verbally thankful as I should have been, but I was a 17-year-old socially awkward, white trash ding dong.
Every time I saw her after my senior year of high school, I made sure to thank her for her kindness. In typical midwestern woman fashion, she would kind of wave me off as if it was nothing I needed to thank her for.
So tonight I’m sad that a lady who was kind to me has died. I will always have a special place in my heart dedicated to Jan, my mother for one year.
Hug your difficult, complicated women,
P.S. In a strange twist, thanks to Jodi’s mom, I introduced my family to chicken and Rice-a-Roni. It became one of my mom’s go-to meals for many years, until she discovered Pasta-Roni and now she makes “chicken noodles” on the reg.