Thursday, September 9, 2010

A Toast to the Special Ones

Meet my friend, Anne:


Anne was the mother-of-the-bride when we took our road trip to Charleston this past spring for a wedding. You may remember I wrote about Shrimp & Grits after that trip, but the true draw of Charleston for me wasn’t really the Hominy Grill; it was the chance to spend time with Anne and her family.

I first met Anne in January 1989. I tried to put in writing the circumstances of our initial meeting, but truthfully, it all sounded rather kinky, though it honestly was not. Suffice it to say, I caught her in the bathtub. (You’ll be relieved to know, however, we didn’t meet face to face until later that day.)

Anne and her husband, Randy, have four beautiful children. When I first met the kids, they were little, ranging in age from 13 to 3. Today, they are all grown up, and each is a gem in their own right … because Anne and Randy are some of the coolest parents you’ll ever meet. Here’s some cool stuff specific to Anne:

  • She went back to college for her teaching degree when her oldest child was a teenager. It was during those years as an Education major that she taught me the importance of positively reinforcing children for positive behavior. She won’t remember she put that in my head, but I know it is there because of her.
  • Anne taught me to clean shrimp with a fork. Being from Louisiana makes her an expert on this one, trust me. Simply place the end tine of the fork underneath the top of the shrimp shell, then in one smooth motion from front to back, push the shell off with the fork while also cleaning out all the “gook.” Once you master her technique (if these instructions are at all clear), you realize just how genius it is.
  • I’m not a dog person, but when we visited Anne and Randy in North Carolina several years ago, she told me she trained her dogs by tying their leashes to her jeans belt loops. She spent entire days with the dogs literally at her side. That sounds like a nightmare to me, but there’s certainly a lesson in patience and persistence there. And it’s a testament to Anne’s ability to be present in the lives of everyone around her. I wonder if I’ll ever learn that.
  • And finally, Anne taught me how important it is to let your children be who they are. Truly, she and Randy have the most amazing children.

These days, we don’t see each other much more than once every few years, but thanks to Facebook, I feel closer to Anne than ever. Like the time she posted a picture of herself holding a huge artichoke, and she said it reminded her of me … because she remembers, as I do, the time I completely pigged out on steamed artichokes at her kitchen counter many years ago. She made some of the best garlic butter I have tasted in my whole life, and I sat and ate and ate and ate. I can only imagine that I made quite a spectacle of myself.

We’ve both aged since our first meeting almost 22 years ago. I’ve since married and had two children of my own. She is now a grandmother … though she still doesn’t seem old enough.

Many people touch our souls on the road of life. My mother — my family — obviously played an important role in who I am today, as this blog shows week after week. But along the way, select non-relatives leave a mark as well. Anne’s mark on my life has been positive from the get-go. She’s taught me by example about beauty and patience and individuality and acceptance … more than she will ever know. And I’ve still so much to learn from her.

She recently forwarded a recipe to me for Frozen Peach Dessert, which was passed down to her from a non-relative who left a similar mark on her life. Here, Anne talks about the recipe and “Mother Hart”:

This recipe comes from Margaret Hart, who recently passed away. She was the precious mother of an old boyfriend, but even after I was married to someone else and had children, she showed such love to me. I would often go to her house with [my boys] when they were little and she seemed to love them as if she were their grandmother. She had many great recipes and would share a bite with me and then give me a handwritten card so I could make it myself. This peach dessert is a great one to share if you have 10 or 12 people. It is perfect when it has just thawed — even better than any peach ice cream you can name. Margaret was called "Mother Hart" by my boys, and I will never forget her love and care for them and me.

This week at Mangia, Figlie, I offer a toast to the Annes and Mother Harts of the world: Chin chin! Who in your life are you toasting?



Mother Hart’s
Frozen Peach Dessert
(Click here to view
and print recipe)

Mother Hart's Frozen Peach Dessert on Foodista


Beth @ Dirty Laundry said...

The dessert sounds sinfully delicious and your friend Anne sounds like a peach herself!

stephanie said...

Can't tell you how many times I have thought about this post today. It is a lovely tribute to your friend, we all need a mentor in life like that! Love that little nugget of wisdom about letting our kids be who they are, very thought provoking and has made me do a lot of soul searching today. So, thank you for making me think today!!

Becky said...

The Colorado peaches this year are absolutely delicious so Mother Hart's recipe should taste perfect. I have to agree with your comments on Anne as the first time I met her, I felt like we were old friends. I, too was at Haley and Rob's wedding and enjoyed Shrimp and Grits for the first time...yummy. Thanks for sharing.

Pat @ Mille Fiori Favoriti said...

You have been blessed to have such a good friend and mentor in your life, Maria! Anne sounds like an amazing woman.