Tuesday, April 19, 2011

Worth a Fortune

On Saturday afternoon, there was a larger than usual crowd at Gourmet 88 restaurant in Burbank.  Five month old Gia Bella and 86 year old Lee. Daniel and Shirley from Wyoming, Cecelia from D.C. Big kids she'd rocked to sleep as infants, and Whitney, the hospice nurse who held her hand at the end.  Her great aunt and her great nephew.  My dad and his wife.  Lots of family friends, the guys she made supper for down the hall, and Elena, who wept in Mom's arms after her husband died.  Tables full of sisters and brothers and nieces and cousins and relatives of all kinds.  Adopted sons in crisp cotton shirts.  There were strollers and walkers, floor length lilac gowns and jeans, and outfits that Mom had sent in the mail.  The food poured out of the kitchen:  won ton soup and minced chicken, potstickers and sesame beef, shrimp with asparagus, scallops in garlic sauce, broccoli beef and braised string beans, kung pao and soft noodles with chicken.

There were squeals of delight* and peals of laughter as people opened their fortune cookies and found her in every one**.  Hugs, smiles, and comforting embraces went around the room.  Every strawberry was eaten, and there were just a few crumbs left on the dessert plates.  The crowd lingered for quite a while, not quite ready for things to truly come to an end.   Then, slowly, the last guests said goodbye, with takeout bags filled with leftovers in hand.  

Mom would have loved every minute.   In fact, I'm sure she did.

*  We had put lottery tickets under everyone's plate in honor of one of Mom's favorite activities.  This turned out to be a huge hit with the pre-teen set.

** Mom's Fortunes:

Stock up on toilet paper.
If you spend enough at Macy’s, you will get free gift wrapping.
Make friends with the people at the post office.  Your packages will get there faster.
Baking is good therapy.
Suze Orman has a point.
Never pay full price for anything.
When in doubt, add sprinkles.
Mix things by hand.
The clearance rack is a great place to shop.
Pray for the President and First Lady.
Don’t butt in, but subtle suggestions are OK.
A pursed lip is worth a thousand words.
Support our troops, and wish for peace.
If it’s on Oprah, it’s worth it.
Make up recipes in your spare time.
There is really good shopping in heaven.
Play the lottery with a friend.  It is a good investment.
Read the newspaper, every day, cover to cover.
Be on time for dinner with seniors.
If you have good shoes, you can walk anywhere.
Celebrities have a lot to teach us.  Mostly about what not to do.
Treat yourself to a movie if you do all your housework.
Join a club. You might get free popcorn.
Having a nice TV makes a big difference.
Doing crosswords is a great way to keep your mind sharp, and to pass the time while you’re waiting.
Every new mom deserves two extra hands.
Keep a jigsaw puzzle on your dining table.
Teach someone to knit, or ask someone to teach you.
It’s OK to watch TV with your grandchildren if it is a cooking show.
Cracked crab, salami, French bread and Granny Goose cheese nibbles qualifies as a great lunch.
Take your kids out to nice restaurants when they’re little, and let them order prime rib and cheesecake.
Buy yourself a frozen dinner, but splurge on organic carrots for the guinea pigs.
Penmanship counts.
Spelling someone’s name out in stickers makes them feel special.
Keep track of how much money you save in a year. It might surprise you.
Keep things simple. It will be much more elegant that way.
It’s a good idea to sign up for Polynesian Dance classes.
People really appreciate it when you listen to them.
Pay attention to the details.
Being a hostess is one of life’s great pleasures.
Go camping, even though you hate it.
Make your home a warm and wonderful place, and then share it.
Giving a great dinner party is an art.
Putting something on a tray can make it fancy.
Buy groceries for other people.
Toast is a food group.
Bring golden tickets hidden in chocolate bars when you read Charlie and the Chocolate Factory out loud to a class of 1st graders.
Wear sandals in the snow.
Learn to drive a stick shift in your thirties.
Buy your cat Filet ‘O Fish sandwiches at the drive through at McDonald’s.
Plant marigolds.
Teach your kids to play a mean game of Bid Whist.
Become an expert tour guide when you move to a new city. You’re sure to have visitors.
Go watch your grandchildren do anything.  Clap loudly.
Always bake birthday cakes from scratch.
Have an opinion about lots of things.
Share pies with your neighbors.
Think “outfit”, not separates.
It’s OK to have your kids sit on cases of wine if the rest of the Volvo is full.
Pay your bills in person.
Try a new place to eat if they send out a coupon.
Use the good china.
Peeling and deveining shrimp is a great job for kids.
Make individual loaves of bread for your guests. It impresses the heck out of them.
Set desserts on fire whenever possible.
Sew matching outfits for your little girls.
Have a separate sink for washing hair.
Tyler Perry deserves to be famous.
Spend some time in Canada.
Collect rocks. They’re free and portable.
Save your old keys.
Having tea makes a normal day special.
Make friends with a handyman.
Elvis movies are worth watching again.
Buy the next size up.
Use vanilla ice cream as a starting point.
One deli chicken can go a long way.
If someone offers to buy you dinner, let them.
Make holidays magical.
Teach your parakeet to love Al Green.
Have a baby in a foreign country. Make the best of it.
Paint the house yourself.
Keep a closet full of long, sparkly dresses for your daughters to covet.
Have dinner (or at least brownies) waiting when people come home from a long trip.
Get your holiday shopping done at least six months in advance.
Before you go buy something new, check the garage. You might find what you need in there.
Be gracious.
Leave notes for people.
Fill the house with fresh flowers.
Shine your plant leaves with mayonnaise.
No matter what, I will always be proud of you.


  1. Dear Sharon,
    This is really so beautiful. What thoughtful way to honor a loved one and to bring family close.

    I saw that you won DJ's humor writing contest and just thought I'd stop by. Glad I did and congrats!


  2. Thanks so much Gilda...I'm so glad you stopped by!