Adventures in Motherhood and Palomino Sandwiches
Life with my mom was always an adventure. That’s because that’s how she viewed life—as an adventure. When I was a child growing up in Minneapolis, my mother encouraged me to be adventurous. We’d get up in the morning, eat breakfast, and then if there was no school, we were sent out to play. I knew every park within a mile radius of my home. We came home when we were hungry or tired and would explain all that we’d done that day. At the end of our stories, mom always had some kind of lesson to learn from all we’d done. We learned how to get along with people, how to accept people who had different ideas from ourselves, and how to play nice. If there was a real problem, Mom would accompany us on the next adventure just to make sure, I realize now, everything was safe.
Treasure for the Taking
Mom was a working mom. She had a business in our basement where she cut all the neighborhood ladies’ hair. Even that was a sort of adventure. People came in and out our back door, up and down the stairs and surreptitiously inserted their lives into ours. She had a drawer with coins in it that I used to pull out and gaze into like a treasure chest. I’m sure there was only a couple of dollars’ worth, but to me it was an amazing amount of money.
Adventures in Elementary School
My mom prepared me for weeks to get ready for school. Heck, she probably prepared me for years, so that when the time came, I was excited! The week before school started, I watched as she sewed a new dress for me. It was red with lace around puffed sleeves. She sewed me a new dress every year of my elementary grades. She walked with me the nine blocks to Jenny Lind Elementary the first day, but after that, my friend Debbie and I walked together on our own. That’s an adventure for anyone at 5 years old. J She trusted me to be brave and stand on my own two feet. I walked every day unless it was raining or too cold to go out for a long period of time. After kindergarten, I would walk home different ways to see new things in other neighborhoods. Her adventurous nature was forming mine.
Exploring New Territory
After elementary school, we moved a lot. I asked her once after I had started junior high school why we had to move again. Do you know what she said? She said, “Jackie, every move is an adventure. It’s a chance to see new things, learn new things and start over and begin something new again.” I’ve never forgotten that. She taught me to look at the positive side of things instead of focusing on the negative. So, as I packed my bags, I imagined my new life, in my new school and all the new adventures I would have. You know what? Each adventure with its pains and sorrows, also had lots of joys and pleasures that I will never forget, and because of my mother, my focus was on the joys rather than the sorrows.
After we left Minneapolis, we never had much money, but my mother, filled with adventure, created adventure without it. We had chickens, horses, puppies, and kittens. We learned how chickens are processed because Mom killed them and we plunged them into boiling water and pulled out the feathers. We saw animal births and learned how to take care of the new life that came with them. We learned how to cook creatively and enjoy the process. Eggs and meat came from chickens and after several breakfasts of egg pancakes—and several suppers too, I might add—I swore I’d never eat another egg pancake in my life. I’ve since softened on that point. My mother loved Mexican food and would find ways to incorporate those flavors into almost anything. She made nachos out of Dorito chips, cheddar cheese and green olives, actually quite tasty, and she made her famous Palomino Sandwiches. I was too afraid to eat them as a youth because of the hot jalapenos she put on them, but this week, my daughter and I tried them for ourselves. Baby Chick brought one to her husband asking him, “What’s your favorite kind of grilled cheese?” He took one bite and promptly replied, “These!” My mom’s adventurous spirit lives on in the Palomino Grilled Cheese Sandwich. Click the picture for the recipe to try them yourself.
My mom was my best friend when I grew into adulthood where we shared many more adventures together. There’s a lesson for all of us in my mother’s life. We all need to remember to take risks, look toward the positive even in bad situations and to have faith to believe for God’s best in our lives. Mom, I miss you. I hope you are proud of the woman I have become and I hope I have passed on a little adventure to my own children. For all the lessons I will learn and have learned and for the many adventures that have been and are still to come, I am eternally grateful.