Simply Yaya

Can’t nobody do it like Momma did…
I had a customer pick up an order today, and we somehow got onto the subject of our favorite meal growing up. That one special plate that takes us back to our childhood – the one that only your momma could make. The one you try to try to replicate but just can’t.
His was cubed steak, mashed potatoes and green peas. He said he mixed it all together in one big pile before diving in and that it was simply the best thing he has ever eaten. Which led me to telling him about my momma’s pork roast. Cooked on the stovetop in a Lodge cast iron Dutch oven, with just water, salt and pepper. She cooked it all day long, and it would just fall apart.

All of a sudden, we were both choking back tears and saying our goodbyes. Folks who barely know each other don’t usually cry in each other’s presence. Yet here we were, standing on a sidewalk in the middle of town, but both caught up in a time from long ago. It sounds crazy, but I could even smell that roast as I was telling him about it. In my mind, I was back in her kitchen, watching her do the most ordinary tasks, not knowing that one day the memories would bring me to my knees.

The past few months have been a wonderful, horrible, blessed and humbling season in my life. I worked part-time at our local homeless day & night warming center. I fed lunch daily, sometimes cooked supper and every now and then fixed some breakfast for them to come to. Lunch was served on the good plates, with real drinking glasses (no red solo cups here) and a full silverware setting. I delighted in dishing up those plates. Telling them, “We eat with our eyes,” when they asked why I plated the meal up just so.

We said grace, we laughed, and we became family. Just a bunch of misfits brought together by misfortune and hard times. We saw triumphs, setbacks, joy and sorrow; however, every day at around 11:30, all of our problems and earthly worries were set aside. We came together at the table, that place that is the heart of every home. Our guests would say, “Ms. Kim, aren’t you going to eat?” And I found myself smiling and saying, not right now – maybe in a little while.

Just like my momma did. I don’t think I ever saw her sit down and eat a meal. My customer said the same thing today about his momma; she was too busy taking care of everyone else. I found myself standing and watching them eat, closing my eyes for a brief moment and remembering a momma that paved the way even when I didn’t realize it. Losing herself in the service of others. Giving me the grandest example of what we are put on this Earth to do.

Life is hard – and beautiful. It is full of blessings for some, hardships for others, and I will probably go to my grave wondering why the sun has shone on me when it has poured down rain on others. I guess I could dwell on it, look around me and let all the ugly get me down, but then I remember a gracious, precious woman who never let the hard times get her down. And I carry on.

Thank you, Momma. For doing something for me every day of my life. Showing me when life hands you lemons, you make lemonade. Your lemonade recipe is one that was loved by so many, and thankfully, easy enough that I can do it just like you. Just in time for summer. Y’all enjoy.

Yaya’s Lemonade (aka Buddy’s favorite)
• One Kool-Aid Lemonade packet
• Four lemons
• 1-cup sugar
• 2 quarts water
1. Make Kool-Aid according to packet instructions with water and sugar.
2. Add the juice of 3 fresh lemons.
3. Slice the remaining lemon and add to pitcher just to make it pretty.

-Kim Rice-Holman

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