A Leave of Absence: Nurturing and Nourishing in Kentucky

Published by Monday, May 7, 2012 Permalink 0
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There are moments in life when you don’t have to ask where your priorities lie. You know — without a single doubt; with your heart, your soul, your gut, your entire being. If you have not heard from The Rambling Epicure team for the last week, it is because that is what the editor is experiencing.

I spend most of my life writing about how to nourish the body through healthy, sustainable food. The nourishing and nurturing I’ve been doing this week fall into a much less concrete realm.

I had news of my mother’s health, and I knew unquestionably that I should drop everything, go to the airport and go straight to her.

So that is where I am, in the green rolling fields of Kentucky, sitting with my mother, holding her hand, covering her with kisses, telling her what a wonderful mother she is; telling her, as I did as a child, “I love you bigger than the world; you’re the best mother in the whole wide world.” Listening to the birds and crickets, taking in the chlorophyll, while listening to her tell me stories of her life. Reading poetry, reciting Tennyson, her favorite poet. Repeating nursery rhymes. She’s even been writing a few new poems from her bed. The last couple of days she has told me about her boyfriends, which almost sounded juicy for the proper Southern lady she is.

Sometimes I go out on the front porch and try to rock the pain away and stop the tears, with a complete-surround concerto of crickets and birds, nostalgic and comforting because they represent some of the fondest memories of my Southern childhood. Or watch the sunset as I read Wendell Berry or the Dalai Lama to put life and all its events into proper perspective.

These are treasured moments no one should miss, no matter how distanced they may be from a relative and no matter how much work they have on their agenda. Stop the world and turn your back on all its topsy-turviness; slam the door. It’s time to close the distance, drop all the bitterness, quit wallowing in the pain and hurt; it’s time to resurrect the exquisite beauty and tenderness of the pure love that exists only between a parent and child, to remember every possible detail of the life you shared, to bring memories back to life so that they become like photos engraved in your brain forever. It’s the time to forgive, forget, ask for atonement, or whatever it takes to heal all the wounds, leaving none of them open. It is the beginning of closure.

There will be moments of pain and joy, tears and dreadful hurt, but doing this is worth all the pots of gold at the end of all the rainbows the earth has ever known.

You are what your mother has made you. You are her creation, her work of art, both physically and in terms of emotional and intellectual education. Mama Ruth taught me to love music, reading, writing, theater, art; the very rhythm and music of words and the world long before I set foot in a schoolroom, and now as she lies land-locked to her bed, we are still sharing those loves, as we will to the end and far beyond. She taught me good Southern manners and how to speak properly. She will continue living through her children every time tears come to our eyes as we look at a da Vinci, every time we hear Tennyson. That is the inner wealth she has passed on to us.

Beauty is what gets me through the day, as I always say on Facebook. Thanks, Mama Ruth, for giving me so many ways to appreciate the beauty in this world, to be capable of loving the world and everyone in it. Inner wealth is better than any pot of gold I might ever have seized.

The nourishment is mutual; she gives me back so much, even as she lies here helpless in her bed.

Thank you, loyal readers, for being patient with us. We will be back very soon, ready to “nurture” you with our hopefully wise words and food information.

Jonell Galloway, Editor






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  • Sean
    May 7, 2012

    What a touching post, and uncannily timely as Mother’s Day is nigh. I didn’t realize you were from Kentucky! My husband is from Bowling Green, and his parents are now near Ft Knox.

    Sending you my thoughts.

    • Jonell Galloway
      June 3, 2012

      Thanks so much for your kind words. So yes, we have more in common than we ever thought!

  • Amanda
    May 7, 2012

    Jonell – our thoughts are with you and your mother at this special time. I wish you both peace and joy.

  • Susan
    May 8, 2012

    This is one of the most beautiful tributes to a parent I have ever read. I know your mother is proud of you and treasures the time you are spending together.

  • Elatia Harris
    May 8, 2012

    Just beautiful — thank you! And thanks to your mother!

  • Leo
    May 8, 2012

    well written jo po!
    love you all missu !! xxx

  • Leonor
    May 8, 2012

    well written j po! love to all !miss you

  • Rosa
    May 8, 2012

    A poignant message and beautiful post.

    All my thoughts are with you and your mother.

    Rosa xx

  • Ed
    May 9, 2012

    At times such as this words have always failed me. Ia blessed that they did not fail you. May peace be upon both of you.

  • Tony
    June 7, 2012

    J – I never knew Mama Ruth but I wish I could have; she seems to be a gifted lady. As a small boy, I vaguely remember Herman as he was the front-man at your Kingswood market. His warm and loquacious nature served him well. You are performing a noble deed in comforting your mother. I hope she continues to be at peace with the world. – T