An Early Start To Mothers Day - I always wanted to be a gastronomer Blog at - 274528

I always wanted to be a gastronomer

An early start to Mothers Day 
May 5, 2012 11:06 am 
Updated: May 12, 2012 8:36 pm

I said awhile back that I would do a blog on my Mom. Seeing as how Mothers day rapidly approacheth, what better time to pay tribute to the woman who gave me this delightful joy of being in the kitchen.
She was born in 1937 and by the time 1956 rolled around, she was hitched to my Dad. People say my mother was a looker. I never saw that myself, she's my mom. As luck would have it, my brother was born first in 57, I followed in 60, my sister in 62 (Two more would follow in 72 and 74). In 1959 my father invited the Jehovah’s Witnesses into their house and before I was born, they'd become baptized dedicated members of that insidious cult.
When we were very little, my Dad loved us because we amused him. My Mom loved us because she liked us. She liked to be with us, talk to us, play with us and teach us. She taught us that we were worth it and perhaps for that alone, she wins the cup in my book but there is just so much more.
Growing up a little Jehovahs Witness kid was hard in the 70's but it was harder to be a wife of a JW. In the Jws, women were second class citizens and in our house, my mom had to contend with both her theological position and the hard scrabble 30’s attitude towards women that my father held. There were no bra burnings in our house.

Despite that, my mom was a humorous engaged lady. I’ve described my mother before as being the hardest working woman I’ve ever met who never had a job. There were no times during my childhood when I can remember my Mom without a giant garden. We weren’t poor but we were so damned close it was hard to tell sometimes but our table never reflected our financial situation. All Mom had to buy were staples - flour, coffee, meat, sugar, milk. The rest of it including our eggs and chickens came from the efforts of my parents toiling in that back yard, most specifically my mother.

I remember so many times being out playing with my sibs while Mom pulled weeds. While inside, I would sometimes just watch my mom. It was doing this that I discovered that Mom had a special gift. On our property lived a wiley old black rabbit. My brother and I spent many an hour trying to get close to that guy, softly cajoling him, trying to get close but of course, we never had a chance. One day. Looking out the window I saw my mother bent over holding something and when I looked down, she was feeding that old black rabbit. I was gobsmacked. That old black rabbit had led us on many a chase and I firmly believed he hadn’t a social bone in his body and there he was, calm and happy as can be while my Mom fed him fresh garden lettuce.

This was to be the first time that I discovered my Moms ability to commune with animals. I saw it again, many times over the years. The last time I saw it, but certainly not the last time it ever happened I’m sure, was about 25 years ago. I’d gone out to see my mother at her house out in the country. Her house was right beside the road and opposite her house, across the road was a large open field in which stood a large tree. The tree was right beside the road and up from my Moms drive, about 30 feet. I’d driven up to my Moms and we were standing outside talking while her little Pomeranian yapped about. While talking, I kept noticing movement in that tree, finally staring it in disbelief as I recognized a cougars tail swishing back and forth. Alarmed I told my Mom to quick move towards the house, there was a cougar in that tree yonder!

Of course my Mom had me immediately stand down, the cougar had been there all day and on many days. He was just taking the shade don’t ya know? Relax.

That was my Moms extrasensory gift. In conversation with her over the years she spoke of this and poo pooed it as being nothing, why her aunt could heal and her cousin could see, and so on. I thought this totally cool and some day, maybe, I’ll do a blog on what part of that bloodline that made it into my own veins.

All through my childhood there was a litany of deer and rabbits, squirrels, birds. Who feeds a crow from their hand? Come on. One side effect of all that was that it made us kids, easy with nature. My brother and I did a lot of our growing up in the bush and we were never scared of anything in that bush except for cougars. Damned cats are evil.

Anyhow, my mom and that garden. You can’t know the exception of fresh creamed baby vegetables unless you’ve ever had them like my mom made them. First, you need to sew the vegetables yourself and then go dig them up just hours before you’ll serve them. Baby carrots, potatoes and peas. I am capable of making dishes that turn heads but I spend my time in the kitchen with a much loftier goal, I want to make food as simply delicious as my Moms creamed baby vegetables.

My mom was a good cook. As adventurous as she could be on a limited budget. I wish I could go back in time and inject another $10,000 a year into our budgets, just to see the difference it would have made in our culinary lives if that lady had been able to buy whatever she wanted at the Overwaitea.
Sigh, so I had to grow up with fresh home made bread, not all the time but often enough that it seems like a common memory. I think we didn’t have it all the time because my Mom had the same trouble as me making brown bread. Tasty but short and thick. The bread of course lent itself to home made cinnamon buns and assorted sweet rolls. Cookies and cakes were a constant and my god did we try to empty those containers but we never managed it.

On top of the food, which was simple but plentiful, my Mom had a sewing machine. My brothers and my own clothes came from wherever it could be purchased cheaply. My Moms and sisters clothes came from that treadle powered Singer. How much clothing? Well we all had the regular amount and then we had the JW stuff. Us boys had to have suits, the girls, going to church dresses. Our suits were given to us and by the time those suits emerged from my moms talented hands from that Singer, you’d never know they were cut for anyone other than yourself. We dressed up well and that was because my Mom could make a purse out of a sows ear. I saw her do it, wore it to church, 5 times a week and out in the service ministry on Sundays.

But back to the food. Moms culinary chicanery piqued my interest, and my brothers too and we wandered into Moms kitchen with eager curiousity on many occasions and that curiousity was always met with open arms. My Mom made that kitchen fun. How many ten year olds make Sesame Chicken? Burned the hell out of it too but not so bad that Mom couldn’t pick off the burned bits and praise the dish to heck and back at the supper table. The spice cake in which I put in a teaspoon full of whole fully formed cloves. My Mom said just spit em out, good cake! You get the picture, she was oh so supportive.

The wheels fell off my Mom and Dads marriage in 1977. I’d moved out the year previous, mostly to get away from my Dad. How ironic it was when my Dad needed a place to stay after he and my Mom split and he moved into my apartment for 3 months. ARRRRG.

Just for the record, as a teen, I despised my father. As an adult I find in him a friend and companion who I admire deeply, just so ya know.

The rest of what I will tell you about my Mom isn’t a happy story. Any good writer would just end it here and leave with you a reasonably pretty picture of a woman you will never know painted in a modestly happy light. I’m not that writer however.

While I was a kid, being a part of the Jehovah’s Witnesses was more of a pain in b u t t than anything else. Only my dad seemed to take it seriously and of course that meant that we all had to also. While my Mom never once spoke out against this ‘religion’ while we were growing up, I can look back and there was just such a sense of …’ok, I’ll go along with this for now’, about her. It was enough, at least for me, that I could never give my whole heart to Jehovah. I did quake in fear a lot though. Being told you’re going to die because you don’t have the right heart condition can be dismaying when you’re just entering puberty.

After my Mom and Dad divorced, oddly it was my father who fell away from the religion first but only so far. He remains a believer but in his mind only. He does not do any JW stuff, no meetings or proselytizing but he reads the literature and makes no bones about keeping to the tenets. No Christmas, birthdays, blood etc…

My Mom kept going to the church for a few years but of course she was a divorced woman. Scourge. That’s a good word for it. As a woman she held a tenuous place in Jw society that was only cemented by way of her husbands virtuosity within the church. Absent that, she became this awful impossible thing, a woman worth so little, even her husband cast her aside. This of course despite the fact that my Mom left my Dad. It wasn’t long before my Mom realized that this was pretty f**ked up and she moved 400 miles back to her childhood town and she left the Jw’s behind.

Of course we all followed. My three sisters still lived with my Mom when she moved and my brother and father came too, my brother in the same town, my father in the area. Eventually I came too and you gotta know I left that freaking cult behind the instant my skinny little 16 year old behind exited our house for the last time.

As the years went by, my Mom settled in to the task of raising my remaining sibs on a pittance of child support and welfare.

Welfare you say? Yep, my Mom became a welfare mom. It’s funny that I have these other sisters, the two youngest because I left home so young that I never got to know them as siblings. Further to that, they were raised in a completely different environment. They are my blood and I know my neighbours better.

So now my Mom was worse than being a divorced woman in the eyes of the JW. She was a divorced woman on welfare. This would have all been just a sorry state of affairs but my brother stayed in the JWs , along with my two eldest sisters. As he rose in prominence within the JW church, as his stock rose among the powers that be, my mother became more and more of an embarrassment to him. She was still technically a JW to them because she’d never officially left. The Jws have rules about such things and because she’d never officially left, in their eyes, she was still technically a JW. Of course to my Mom, they were a group of misguided thugs, enough said.

Unfortunately when my brother became an elder, a position of authority within the church, he did so on the back of his disdain for my mothers apparent disregard for his religion. To further cement his status within the church, which is often defined by your zealotry, my brother undertook the disfellowshipping of my Mom. She needed to be removed from the rolls.

This is where the JWs and other mainstream religions really start to diverge. As a young man, I knew for certain that I didn’t want any religion in my life but I always maintained that if you needed one, the Jws were certainly the best one. That is until my brother implemented the disfellowshipping of my Mom.

Some of you may have read about a tribe in Africa that carries out death sentences in their tribe by simply sentencing the guilty to death. Then they consider him dead. That’s it. The condemned are ignored, un-touched, unfed, unclothed. No one speaks to them, or engages them in any way; ever again, they’re dead. The consequence of this is that more often than not, the condemned die.

Being disfellowshipped by the Jws is very similar. The Jws claim that family may maintain contact with the DF’d person but that it’s a ‘personal’ choice, wink wink nudge nudge. In one fell swoop, my brother and two oldest sisters made a personal choice to consider my Mom dead to them.

At first my Mom took it in stride, her social circle had largely been replaced by her own non jw family and other regular folk so she didn’t have that immediate transition to make. But as first my oldest sister and then the middle sister wandered off into the JW fold, my mother found herself recoiling from the heartlessness of their actions. She would be out with my youngest sister at the mall and my Mom would run into my brother, his wife and their kids and they would turn their heads and walk away without acknowledging her as fast as they could, like she was the devil.

It made my mom sick.

In looking back at this, it’s so obvious what happened but at the time I didn’t know what was going on with my mom. She just got ill. She was 58. The illness was undefined, she described it as feeling like her guts were moving around like snakes. Doctor after doctor became her saviour and as her illness progressed, first her long term boyfriend abandoned her, then my youngest sister escaped without her sanity but not a jw. Alone, my moms decent into the madness of depression, continued unabated and it manifested itself as illness. It made her sick. Being sick certainly brought me running. Over the years it actually brought my sibs around occasionally too. Being sick got my Mom the attention she so desperately needed. Unfortunately it exhausted everyone and when I found myself embroiled in a relationship with a woman who was an undiagnosed Borderline, my Mom lost me too.

As near a picture as I can put together over those years shows a woman descending deeper and deeper into depression caused madness. I kept up with my Mom on the sly, don’t ask. If you’ve lived with someone with a mental illness, you’ll know what I mean. If you haven’t then I’d need to write a book to make you understand. I watched my mom get kicked from ministry to ministry, she basically gave up on life, consistently telling any and all about the insidious illness that was eating up her insides and as she moved from residence to residence, undergoing ECT, and countless meds. It ate her up.

When finally I extracted myself from the relationship I’d been in, I took a year to heal and when I found myself again, I was being constantly bombarded by calls from the special needs retirement home she found herself in. It all turned out that my Mom’s abilities had so diminished that she was no longer capable of looking after her own finances. In 2007, I gained her power of attorney and took over her finances. It took me a year to untangle that mess.

I probably have done an injustice in detailing these years, both to my Mom and to myself. Probably to my sibs too. I know my brother needs medication to get through his day now, mood stabilizers. He gets depressed. I don’t really know, I hear of this anecdotally though my father. My oldest sister and I last spoke about 4 years ago briefly. I ran into her while Christmas shopping by myself and we broke bread together. At the end of that meal we both openly decided that it would be absolutely a good thing if we never saw each other again for the rest of our lives. They both, along with my middle sister remain Jws.

My mom has settled finally. She’s 74 and lives in a special needs retirement facility in the next town over. She likes it there but describes her neighbours as not being ‘with it’. I go see my mom fairly often, I take her out for Mothers Day, family gatherings (hers) and I always have her over for Christmas. I make sure she has a bird, that her scooter runs, hairdressing, foot rubs etc..She doesn’t walk so well so it’s tough to get her involved in much. One of her few visitors is my father. She pretends not to know who he is and this amuses him.
There is of course the result of all those years of depression and the medical attention that engendered. My mom is a shell of who she once was. She’s needy and self centered, greedy and completely self involved. She looks and smells like the woman I adored growing up and I stand beside her based on that memory but she in no way IS that woman. I honestly don’t know this one. We can talk and laugh but every inch of her social grace is geared towards what it can bring into her life. You can feel it and when you hang with her for awhile, you can see it. I love my Mom, I do. This stuff though, it’s really hard.

My family, having been in the Jehovah’s Witnesses suffered a grave injustice from that involvement. From 1997 until last year I was a part of and ran one of the largest Ex-Jw sites online, extending a helping hand to those who encounter the peculiar injustices of having been involved with this malicious evil cult. My own story is pretty harmless compared to the tales I could tell you.
Have I made my position clear on this? Lol.

So that’s my tribute to my Mom, such as it is. It’s not a pretty story but it’s one that needed to be told. Thanks for your time.

May 5, 2012 12:47 pm
Didn't know what to say but felt i should say something. If possible, as far as it depends on you, live at peace with your family. Sounds like you have done the best you could within your abilty. Thank you for sharing such a bitter-sweet glimpse.
May 5, 2012 12:50 pm heart goes out to you and your poor mother. It never stops amazing me how we can damage so many people in the name of religion.
May 5, 2012 5:30 pm
Aw hey, Moms Diner, thanks for the kind words. Big Shots, no sympathy required here but thank you so much nonetheless!
May 5, 2012 7:11 pm
I am so sorry for what you and your family has gone through. I lost my only sister 27 years ago to the JW. It saddens the entire family and was most hurtful at the time of my mothers passing. I hold no hope that she will someday join in family celebrations. I only hope that she is happy with her choice. Unfortunately when I do see her joy is not what she portrays.
May 5, 2012 7:24 pm
It's good that you share your story about how damaging the Jehovah's Witnesses were to your family. The jws are a false religion/cult. My wife grew up in a crazy household to say the least and she was saved by this through the love of Christ. Jesus says, "I will never leave you nor forsake you." Anyway, we feel like we can relate to your story and that is awesome that you have been there for your mom and dad!
May 6, 2012 7:51 am
Hi Marie, yeah that's it exactly isn't it? You LOSE them and there's just no reconciling it. It never ends. You just have to live and let live. I'm really sorry to hear of your sister.
May 6, 2012 7:52 am
Fork, good for your wife on hooking up with ya, sounds like it was a winner for you both!
May 6, 2012 4:41 pm
whats the saying don't talk about religion or politics. no matter what you say someone will always have another opinion. I don't happen to believe in god no matter who he may be. I do however believe In A higher power. I have seen people hurt from Jews, christians, Jehovah's Witnesses, and most recently many from Islam. Christians are attempting to block same sex marriages in all the states by amending the state constitutions so they can discriminate legally. {Insert Rodney Kings quote here}. Just be kind, don't hurt, and respect each other.
May 6, 2012 5:30 pm
If only it were that simple Mr. Sparta. If only.
May 6, 2012 6:21 pm
I know, rectly in my local area. Fayetteville pastor: Telling parents to punch kids was joke. this was an anti-gay sermon filled with hate and
May 7, 2012 6:11 am
Hi Raedwulf, I am very sorry to hear about your mom and the shambles her life fell into. She sounds like she was a very special lady, almost magical. It is sad how pain in life can make us turn inwards, get bitter, stop caring so much about others. A close relative of mine got involved with a man who was raised as a JW and he is very bitter...its sad. I also witnessed my own mother go from being a great mom to consumed with alcoholism to the point where she was unable to offer me the mothering I so desperately needed as a teenager. I got involved in drugs, alcohol, etc. eventually becoming pregnant at 17 which was a wake up call to stop my self-destructive spiral towards an early grave. At 20, still a very lost and messed up young woman I gave my heart to the Jesus I knew as a little child. Since then, with grace and healing I have been redeemed from the ashes. From the mistakes of my parents and my own sin. "He places the lonely in familes, he leads out the prisoners with singing." Psalm 68:8 He gave my a wonderful man to be my husband and stepfather to my son. I have now been married five years and have seen my mom celebrate over a year of sobriety. I don't want to just give a flash-testimony or anything... but I know the pain of watching your family fall apart. ..and also that there is nothing that he can not restore. If you ever want to talk please feel free to email me at
May 7, 2012 6:14 am
That's a tough story but it sounds like it has only made you stronger. We've had to deal with mental illness and cults in this family too so I could understand exactly where you were coming from. At least it sounds like your Mom was able to share some good stuff with you. There is nothing better than observing the creatures that come to the garden while sampling fresh ripe strawberries and picking peas to have with dinner.
May 7, 2012 2:53 pm
Family.... I didn't have to deal with what you went through, although I can attest to the reality of the statement "money is the root of all evil" even when it is family you are dealing with and especially when you are talking inheritances... :'(
May 9, 2012 10:28 am
merlion - I believe the saying is "the LOVE of money is the root of all evil" This isn't my blog so I guess I should keep my mouth shut.
May 9, 2012 10:33 am
Randy - I read your blog early this morning as I was sipping that first cup of coffee. I was left speechless, touched and more than a bit disturbed. The thought of a son & family turning away from his mother - as if she were dead, just broke my heart. I can't imagine the pain. Bless you for sharing this with us. Life isn't always a bed of roses, is it?
May 9, 2012 11:33 am
I don't know really what to say to your story. I am so glad you have the good memories you do of when you were young and at home with your MOM. It sounds like she was a wonderful mom.I too believe that JW are a cult and somehow should be banned from existence. I do believe everyone should have freedom of religion. However, no one should be able to force there religion on anyone else. To declare your mom dead to them is just despecable to me.When these people die and don't end up where they are planning on ending up. That is when they will get there come uppings I believe.I am glad you are close to your Mom now even though she is not as you knew her before. The only way she could cope with what all happened to her is to become the person she is today.So sad for her and for you.
May 9, 2012 3:52 pm
Your writing evokes many thoughts but I'll just try to remember the line of "just spit 'em out, good cake" That's not only a great memory but a wonderful lesson if one ever cared to learn one. Thanks for sharing
May 9, 2012 8:01 pm
Thank you everyone for your kind responses. Busy as heck right now so I'll have to do a lump hug for now. Best wishes to a great group.
May 9, 2012 8:16 pm
Here is a HUGE group, lump sum hug back at you......your blog has hit a cord with me. It has been sticking with me all day. I suppose that is the ultimate compliment for an author. Your words stuck with me........
May 10, 2012 6:05 pm
Thank you B-Nana, thats a really nice thing to say, really.
May 10, 2012 6:53 pm
This account is surprisingly blunt, insightful and honest, Randy. Your time spent with your Mom will be most gratifying for yourself because you don't want to think of yourself as not having done enough for or with her. You, my friend, seem to be the only stability in her life. Big hug to you!
May 11, 2012 7:16 am
Thanks Mike. You kind of put your finger on the single thing that churns deep in my conscience at times. Could I have done more, should I? I've largely made peace with it but...
May 11, 2012 5:49 pm
There will always be those questions, Randy. In 1996, my mother was diagnosed with untreatable lung cancer and had only five to seven months to live. My sister and I were the principal caregivers during that horrible time and we stuck to the tasks required. Like you, I wonder if I could have done more. I believe as long as I cannot answer that question, then I must have done everything I could. It's one of those things we don't want to contemplate when it's our time to depart this earth.
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About Me
Let's see, in keeping it to a subject, at age 22 I had a filet doused in Bernaise sauce aboard a train. That was it, I was hooked on fine food. Living in a small town necessitates learning to cook well to maintain that stellar menu.
My favorite things to cook
Oh man, only a thousand characters? My favorite things to cook are items that make YOU happy. I'll try anything and thus far it would be far easier to list those things I don't like than those I do. So far, I hate Cilantro and I'm allergic to green chiles. It's a short list.
My favorite family cooking traditions
My Christmas dinner. Usually in December, sometimes early January. I've a waiting list of people who wish to be invited. Alas, I've only a service for 10. We're talking silver, Noritake, crystal stemware, crisp linens, fine wines paired appropriately and a menu that's usually derived from a theme.
My cooking triumphs
Every smile, every gasp of delight, every accolade, such sweet victory!
My cooking tragedies
A Cioppino recipe I found here. I served it as part of one of those Christmas dinners and the cod was a poor choice. It was terrible, ghastly fishy taste. I've since learned a thing or two about freshness in fish. Prior to that, hmm perhaps when I was 10, I made a spice cake that called for whole cloves....hey, that's what it said on the outside of the bottle, whole cloves....
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