Cook Book Memories

I love to cook, I’ve been interested in cooking since I could eat, I think! I remember standing on a chair around age 4 learning how to make biscuits from Mammie (my maternal grandmother) . . . and also beginning to ‘invent’ my own recipes. My first was adding sugar to peanut butter, mixing it up, and patting it into ‘cookies’ then freezing it. My sweet grandmother patiently let me experiment, then would explain why it didn’t work out like I thought it would.

This guest post brought back those sweet memories. I hope you enjoy this guest blog as much as I did.

God's Grace and Mom's Alzheimer's

I shouldn’t keep it, but I can’t throw it away.  Dad cleaned out another cupboard and asked me if I wanted any of Mom’s cookbooks. I have a cupboard stuffed with cookbooks already.  But I had to look.  I had no problem turning away from the nice, new looking books.  But then I saw it. The tattered, falling apart Better Homes and Gardens New Cook Book.  And I was helpless to turn my back on it.

The book was copyrighted in 1953. Mom probably started out with it as a young bride. And the cookbook was part of my whole childhood. The red and white gingham checks with the silhouettes of black pans on the cover shout home and comfort to me.

I leaf through the pages, many of them loose now because the holes have torn.  I look for some notations in Mom’s handwriting, and am disappointed to find…

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I want to be a diamond!

Have you ever heard the expression that someone is a “diamond in the rough?”

I am single, and I’ve said that I’m looking for a “diamond in the rough” myself. With companies like LifeGem (a company that turns the carbon from a body into a diamond) that gives that statement an entirely new meaning! Those unsuspecting men have NO idea what I really mean. 😉

Today’s blog is about memorial options. What do you do with the deceased? Will you have a service? A viewing, visitation? A church service or one in held in the funeral home? Burial or cremation? Will they be placed in a cemetery, have a burial at sea, or even in the back yard? Does your family want to keep the ashes (cremated remains), put them in the ocean, a columbarium, or scatter them off a mountain top and release butterflies?

What!?!? Bet you didn’t realize there were so many choices! After you catch your breath, let’s explore.

First you must consider what the survivors will need to help them to better cope with their loss. When my kids and I were talking about my demise (something we do more often than most families) I said that I don’t want people looking at me after I’m dead.

My oh so blunt daughter, Kendra said, “Mom. You’ll be dead, you won’t know.”

She’s right. That’s why I’ve given Kendra permission to do whatever SHE needs. If the viewing and visitation service is beneficial to her, then she should be allowed to have that. My son, Doug, said he might not want to look at me. That’s okay too. He doesn’t have to participate, if that is too difficult for him.

After my mother died, I couldn’t bear to wear black because she was such a joyous person with an absolute wicked sense of humor. Thank goodness I had talked with her about this ahead of time. When I wore a green dress with daisy’s on it, I wore it with confidence ~ despite the “tisk tisking” that was going on behind my back. It made me feel better, and I had my mother’s blessing; it just didn’t matter what anyone else thought.

This is another reason that you should discuss this difficult topic in advance. Making these decisions while grieving is very, very hard on families. They might make decisions during the moment that they will regret later. Your survivors might argue about what YOU wanted, instead of what they will need. I encourage you again, talk about this. . .it actually can be quite fun and very enlightening as long as nobody is actively grieving. After the death.. no telling what will happen. I’ve seen many families ripped apart while planning their loved ones funeral during the height of grief. Please, please don’t take that chance.

First decision: cremation vs burial. Most people do not choose cremation because they want a more traditional funeral. They don’t realize that you can have the most traditional of services when the means disposition is cremation. Did you? Simply put, cremation is nothing more than the form of disposal of the deceased’s body, it has nothing to do with any type of service.  Even with full services, cremation is more cost effective. You won’t need a vault or a casket. You can still have them if you want them, but you don’t have to have them.

Second decision: what services, if any, will provide comfort to those grieving?  You don’t have to have any formal services with a burial. You can have a direct burial without any services. You can hold your service outside, in a funeral home, a church, or in the “parlor” like they did many years ago. A viewing can be held at home. (note: embalming  is only to temporarily preserve a body for the purpose of safety to attendees of a visitation). The family can gather around your grave, play guitars and sing our “family songs”, like my siblings and nieces and nephews did after my mom’s service. It was very private, personal, and very comforting to all of us. Regulations are controlled by each state’s governing board.

Third decision: What business will take care of the body? A funeral home that is owned by a large corporation, or one that is locally owned?

Fourth decision: Who will do what after the death? Is there a poem or song you’d like someone to share? Is there a special talent or gift that a loved one would like to share? What about food? Are you known for a particular dish or dessert? Does someone know how to make it or want to make it? Are there certain photos you do not want displayed?  Better make sure it’s known. Where are your papers: life insurance policies, bills due, a co-signer with right of survivorship is important. Where is your will? Be certain that someone (preferably at least two people) will know this information.

My niece Kristy lived next door to my mother and did her bookkeeping each month. After mom’s death, Kristy’s knowledge was invaluable!!! My mom also had selected the attorney that prepared her will to be the executor of the estate (I do not recommend using one of your children or a family member. It can cause a great deal of resentment). Be certain that someone knows the attorney’s name and how to contact him. Make a list of your accounts, locations, and account numbers. There are many funeral planners out there – use them!

There are many many choices. What means the most to your survivors? What will give them the most comfort? Where are your important papers located? How will things be paid for if your funds are frozen?

If you have any questions that I haven’t answered here, please feel free to leave them in the comments. I’ll be happy to point you in the right direction to get your question answered.