This has been a long week. It hardly feels like the same trip it was a the beginning of the week. I have a lot to share from the trip, and I will when I get home for now I wanted to share what I said at the funeral. I wanted to share something that was both personal to me and an aspect of her that others would have a connection to as well.
It is hard to condense or quantify everything that Irie has meant to me. The place she had in my life was so large and so important that it is too much to say here. Instead I am going to talk about food.
It is no secret that as a family there is nothing we love more than to spend a long weekend at the “big red house” in Cummington cooking and eating. I cannot separate my memories of her from food and family.
My earliest memories of her are helping to scoop Crisco from it blue container into the bowl for piecrusts. I can still see my first tiny pie that sat in the oven next to some apple or blueberry pie baking for Thanksgiving. This was back when Thanksgiving was still celebrated in New York. I don’t have any clear images of that first kitchen on 89th Street except for the tub of Crisco and the step stool that I sat on.
Those pies were just the beginning, Iris taught me so much about food, whether it was my long distance phone calls wanting to know, yet again how long to cook chicken or the envelops of hand written recipes she thought I needed she was teaching me to cook. But these tricks and lists of ingredients are only part of it.
From her I’ve learned that there is no better meal than one that you’ve cooked together as a family over a leisurely Saturday.
That food tastes exponentially better the more people are sitting at the table.
That a meal at a table filled with people you love will last for hours, unless there is a movie everyone is dying to see.
That despite everyone saying they are full if you leave the remains of a chicken on the table there will be none left by the time you clear the table.
And most importantly I’ve learned that creating a meal together is love and that is what it means to be part of this family.
The image I keep of her in my head is of early morning standing in the kitchen a cup of tea in her hand looking at a list of food we’ve all decided to make for dinner. It’s still early so we are the only people up, we sit for a while in front of the fire drinking apricot tea and talking. Those were the moments I learned the most about life, love and family from her. Those are the moments I will always hold in my heart.
At some point I want to share some of the wonderful recipes that she has given me over the years. The one I love most is from her aunt which includes the instruction: one coffee cup of flour, not the flowered one.