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Archive for the ‘memories’ Category

Mother’s Day Tribute: SHIMMERING SPIRIT

by Karen Elizabeth Rigley

For those of you who still have your mother – cherish her, appreciate her and enjoy her.  Some things are too close to your heart to write about. That’s how I feel about my mom. Even though it’s been over a decade since her passing, it’s still so hard. I miss her every day. Sometimes it a tiny thing – ice skating on TV, a snapshot of her or a sudden memory of her soft voice and warm hugs.

 Such an amazing woman, she possessed unbelievable inner strength throughout all her earthly struggles. Yet, she shimmered with a sweet compassionate spirit, never hurting another soul. She taught by example. She always put others first. No matter her personal hardships, her concern was the well-being of others. She believed in us, expecting the best of all, yet offering forgiveness when we faltered. Never judging or preaching. She lived by an unshakable quiet faith.

Oh, how I admired her. It tears my heart that I sometimes disappointed her. She endured so much, weathering storms of life that would shipwreck most. Yet, even during her darkest times, she’d reach out during the depths to care for others and make sure they were okay. They say that good deeds we do in life stockpile rewards in heaven. Mom earned a lifetime of them just by being herself.

Even toward the end, after a valiant seventeen-year battle with Parkinson’s Disease, Mom hung on as long as humanly possible despite her agony, knowing we still needed her. How I still miss her!

I’m forever grateful for the wisdom she taught me. She lived the Three Cs: Courage, caring and compassion. She knew the secret of life is how we treat others. There’s no one I admire more and it stirs my heart each time I see Mom’s kind, loving spirit living on in my daughter.


Even as she sleeps

her legs

tremble, tremble





She awakens aching,

body weak





in the


Kind, arthritic hands







Constant battle of

mind with limbs






Courageous spirit


Memories call







by Karen E. Rigley

Mom’s spice cake with penuche frosting, Dad’s lemonade, Aunt Della’s fudge, Uncle Joe’s pancakes, Grandma’s griddle cakes. Mmm. Each evoke memories of taste and aroma and love. Emotion swirls the memories into mental warm fuzzies.

I can remember as a child sitting in my grandmother’s cozy kitchen watching her toss ingredients into a bowl while oil (probably lard) heated on the stove. Not sure of my age, but my legs dangled because my feet didn’t reach the floor. Grandma smiled and hummed as she dumped flour into the bowl, cracked eggs, added this and that – never measuring. Anticipation bubbled along with the griddle cakes as she poured the batter into the sizzling oil. Years later, I begged her for the recipe and she tried to estimate the ingredients, but since she cooked by instinct I never could replicate her delicious griddle cakes. Same with Uncle Joe’s heavenly pancakes – because he cooked free-form in my Grandma’s style.

My mother cooked that way to a degree, but she also used recipes. She adjusted them, tweaking them to perfection. One of my prize possessions is an old, yellowed recipe card where she had scribbled her own changes onto the original recipe. No matter what Mom made, she did it her way and created a dish beyond any recipe she used as a guide. I could never begin to list all her wonderful creations from simple meals to superb desserts. How she found time and energy with seven kids and working around the clock as Dad’s secretary and office manager still boggles my mind. That was Mom. Amazing in every way. Sweet memories of her cooking filled my life.

My dad could cook, too. Yet, beyond his Sunday roastbeef, my favorite by far was his homemade lemonade. It took countless lemons and a nice chunk of time — considering the volume of lemonade to satisfy our huge family, but the icy taste on a hot summer day was pure delight.

Recently (at special request) I made my sister Kathy our mom’s spice cake with penuche frosting. Yum. So today I’ll share that recipe with you:

Leila’s Spice Cake with Penuche Frosting

Preheat oven to 350 degrees

2 ½ cups flour, 2 ½ tsp. baking powder, 1 tsp. salt, 1 tsp. vanilla,

½ tsp. baking soda, ½ tsp. nutmeg, 1 tsp. ground cinnamon,

1/4 tsp cloves, ½ tsp. allspice, 1/4 tsp. ginger, 1 1/4 cup sugar,

1/3 cup molasses, 1 cup milk, 3 eggs, ½ cup butter, 1/4c shortening

Place dry ingredients (except sugar) in bowl. Stir flour, salt, baking powder & soda and spices until blended. Set aside. In mixing bowl blend sugar, molasses, butter and shortening. Add eggs. Beat eggs into butter mixture. Add flour and milk alternately, mixing as you go. Beat batter until well-blended. Pour into greased and floured 9×13 pan.

Bake 35 minutes or until toothpick comes out clean. Cool.

Penuche Frosting

½ cup butter, 1/4 cup milk, 1 cup brown sugar (packed), 1 ½ cup powdered sugar

Melt butter in saucepan. Add brown sugar. Boil over low heat for two minutes, stirring constantly. Add milk and bring back to boil. Cool at room temperature without stirring., until lukewarm. Stir in powdered sugar gradually; mix to consistency to spread.

Frost cake and enjoy!