“To live in this world you must be able to do three things: to love what is mortal; to hold it against your bones knowing your own life depends on it; and, when the time comes to let it go, to let it go.” – Mary Oliver
My mother, Gloria Mineo, was a champion and still is, even in her spiritual realm. She lived during the Depression for which, I don’t think I knew the full amount of strife and struggle of her beginnings. She was strong but soft. She was discipline. She was patience. She was an artist. She was the “glue.” She was a Mother.
With my father, they were the perfect match. They gave 60 years to each other, as well as six children. They gave me a family to love, be loved by, and to share throughout my own life. They were the kindest, most compassionate and loving teachers I ever knew. Together, they gave us truth and preparation to move forward in this thing we call life.
There was no shortage of food, which translated to love in our home. Our home was open to anyone who happened to stop by, and there were always several. “Welcome” was my mother’s middle name. “Welcome” meant the same thing as “Love.”
My mother the cook
My mother will always be remembered for her cooking and baking; the main ingredient of her culinary goodies was “Love.”
My siblings and I grew up eating an extensive array of foods because Mom was intent on us experiencing all types of cuisine. She could duplicate and improve on just about anything. Our school lunches — brown-bagged meatball sandwiches, eggplant parmesan, beef cutlets, chicken cutlets, pork cutlets — were the talk of the lunch room. Our after-school snack was dipping crusty Italian bread, often homemade, in sauce and a couple of meatballs to tide us over until dinner.
When my parents moved to Florida, things of course changed but one of us was always there. While visiting them, smelling onions and garlic cooking at 6 a.m. was our alarm clock. Many times my father would greet us at the airport with warm calzones wrapped up and stored in a cooler. I remember flying home, more than once, opening my cutlet sandwich that Mom made, and the entire plane turning in their seats to see where that aroma was coming from.
A Mother’s Day gift
To keep Mom forever in our present, I assisted in writing a cookbook of her incredible life’s work, compiling over 300 of her recipes! Each time I visited my parents in Florida, I brought home another one of Mom’s books containing her handwritten index cards of recipes. I typed and formatted each recipe into my computer, and when I compiled 25-30, I mailed the hard copies to Mom for editing. My father drove Mom’s edited recipes to the post office and mailed them back to me. We did this for three years. I designed the cookbook, created the cover page with some help from my son, took the photographs, and had it printed. I presented the finished product to her on Mother’s Day, 2011.
Mom was blown away by the book. I had jotted a little note on the inside cover. As she opened it, I could see her expression changing from amazement to tears. I knew then that I touched her, celebrated her – she knew just how much I loved her.
I included the following letter to my Mom in the dedication section of the book.
These recipes are your creations over the years and in honor of your hard work in creating and re-creating until you achieved the ultimate perfection, I wanted to compile your recipes for others to enjoy as much as we have.
Our home revolved around the kitchen table with our immediate family and of course, our extended family. Grandparents, aunts, uncles, cousins, etc. Mom, you have always intuitively known to never underestimate the value of food and sharing the experience with those we love.
Thanks Mom, for this is a tribute to you! This, in addition to your family, was your passion! As a matter of fact, just writing this, somehow through the tears, the divine sensation permeates my senses. Mom, your true and absolute purpose in life was to love, which you did every minute of every day. Filling plates of food for your friends and family who were not well. Dad loading the labeled plates into the back seat of the car in order to make the deliveries – How selfless and kind you both were and still very much are through your children, grandchildren and great-grandchildren.
Our connection with Care Dimensions
Unfortunately, we lost my Dad to cancer just four months before the cookbook was finished. In their final days, both my Mom and Dad received hospice care from Care Dimensions at home and then at the Kaplan Family Hospice House. Care Dimensions is a beautiful organization. Devoted and caring staff never hesitated to answer questions, comfort my mother as well as our family. There were never less than a dozen of our family members visiting at a time at Kaplan House. We slept and ate there; only going home long enough to shower. The nurses and aides would cover us with blankets and compassionately inform us of changes or progression. Their care is all encompassing, surpassing what most expect unless one had a previous experience, which we did with my father. I couldn’t think of any place else and anyone else that I would have wanted to care for my loved ones. Thank you, Care Dimensions.
Care Dimensions has continued to help me journey through the loss of my mother, with numerous support groups and individual bereavement counseling. I thank you from the bottom of my heart for helping me journey through such a difficult transition. I was the primary caretaker for both of my parents and the loss is a tremendous void. (See Helpful Tips for Coping with the Loss of a Mother.)
I think I can speak for my siblings when I say that Mom had a huge impact on who we are as people. She was proud of her children but what she may or may not have realized is that we were proud that she was our mother. Our lives were not the only ones affected by her generosity. My phone never stopped ringing while she lay in bed waiting to ascend to the heavens, that beautiful place where angels go. And in spite of feeling poorly, she was able to say goodbye to many people who could not be there but who needed to hear her beautifully kind voice one last time. We were blessed and we knew it! I love you Mom, we all do!
Care Dimensions’ licensed bereavement counselors support anyone who has lost a loved one, regardless of whether that person received care from us. For more information, visit https://www.caredimensions.org/grief-support/, or call 855-774-5100.
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