The stately Cape Cod home beckons you forward from its hilltop perch above the Atlantic. As you approach the side door anticipation grips your heart. Entering, you dash up the short corridor and step into the sun drenched room – windows line the entire back wall – and experience something quite rare, total love and acceptance. Candles flicker on the counter – the smell of brewed hot coffee wafts through the air – all is ready for your visit. “Welcome home” she says, “come and sit for awhile…in the kitchen.”
She offered authentic hospitality to all who passed through her kitchen door. It didn’t matter if they were family, friend or acquaintance. Her intention was the same – give love and a happy resting place to every soul whom God had entrusted to her care. There were many. She drew people to her as easily as mice are drawn to cheese. Her ability to place others at the center of her life – if only for a moment – was one of her greatest gifts. When you experienced time with her in the kitchen – you never wanted to leave. Deep conversations, solutions to life’s problems, and much laughter were the order of the day.
She had a knack for feeding the masses. She could turn an ordinary cheese tray into a hearty snack for a dozen people. I am not sure how she did it as she never drew attention to herself. She would quietly go into the pantry or refrigerator and come back with more food for “the guys” and everyone else gathered in her midst. Her joy was found in bringing happiness to others. In addition to food, there was always plenty of laughter, toasts and even tears in her kitchen. Folks felt comfortable being themselves. They knew they had a friend in her.
Despite the beauty of her home, people congregated in the kitchen. There was always something pulling one to that room – it was her love which was experienced in the sumptuous foods and drinks that she offered to everyone, all of the time. Some folks sat at the counter, some at the table and some stood around – but no matter where you landed, you were glad that you were there. When the gatherings were large, she would notice the quiet one in the room. Everyone felt special in her kitchen – everyone was important and no one was left out. It was like you had won a ticket to the happiest place on earth and you knew it.
Thinking back to those incredibly happy moments, I now have the gift of precious memories and the opportunity to continue her traditions. In the spirit of a woman who made everyone feel special and important, I spend my life trying to emulate her loving ways. These days, you will always find a lit candle in my kitchen and a cheese tray ready when family and friends gather. Hospitality freely offered is love in action – a lesson my beloved Mother taught to all in the heart of her beautiful kitchen.