Last week I entered the building that I recently feared the most with a slight stride in my step. Clutching an armful of new magazines that entertained me while I was resting after my surgery; I knew someone else could enjoy them in the waiting room of The Cancer Institute.
I signed my name on the check-in list and giggled again at the last question on the sheet that asks, “Are you currently residing in an assistant-living facility?” Someone always writes, “Not yet”.
I had a feeling that my first follow-up visit would bring good news. I never heard back from the oncologist’s office since the surgery, that could only mean something positive, right? No news is good news? And yes, he told me, “You know the results were all fine. The pathology was all clear.” I let out a quiet sigh and said, “I had a feeling, but it’s still good to hear from you in person.” The doctor then said, “See you next week.” And I smiled and headed out the door with happy feet and a relieved heart.
I was almost running as I approached the exit door. My body embraced the warmth of the bright Florida sunshine reflecting off the intracoastal water across the street. Feeling the hot sun on my body reminded me of how good life is. As soon as my eyes adjusted to the intense light, I saw a deflated face of a woman exiting the car right in front of me as I walked out the door. She had on a scarf around her head to hide her missing hair. Wisps of grey hair peeked out from the sides of the loosely wrapped scarf. Her thin and weak body was hunched over in obvious pain. She looked like a battered soldier returning from a battle. This battle was cancer.
A lady that seemed to be her mom rushed over as fast as she could at the same time assist her in getting out of the car. Her dad pulled away to park the car in the parking lot. Her parents had to be in their mid 70’s. Tears welled up in my eyes as our glances met for a fleeting moment. I instinctively wanted to reach out and give her frail body a gentle hug. I wanted this stranger to be able to enjoy the same healthy fate that I was blessed with. I took a deep breath as I walked towards the parking lot and was thankful that she wasn’t alone. Some people, unfortunately, face illnesses without a family’s love and support. What touched me the most about that family is that this was maybe a point in their lives that the daughter would be helping her aging parents. Instead, her mother and father were still taking care of her. She was still being graced by her mother’s care and devotion.
Nine years ago I celebrated my first Mother’s Day. It was one of the happiest days of my life. I finally realized what I had been always wanting. I couldn’t wait to give the enormous amount of love to my own child that I received growing up. I have been blessed with a dear mom that has the biggest heart.
(me and my mommy first day back from hospital)
She has been there for me through thick and thin. Mom instilled in me my deep love for cooking and baking. Mom nursed me through all my scraped knees and minor illnesses when I was a little girl, and major illness I faced as an adult. She taught me how baking and eating a delicious cake could help heal a broken heart. A comforting dish of Hungarian dumplings and gulyas always alleviated disappointing news. I could go on and on about all the celebration cakes. One day I’ll share some of those happy stories and recipes. In the meantime, here’s my shout-out to my mom: Happy Mother’s Day Mom! You can say “hi” …here’s where she writes about all her delicious food.
This year I am looking forward to Mother’s Day more than I usually do. This Mother’s Day will be a little different than most of my Mother’s Days. It’s a day I was uncertain I would be well enough to celebrate. It’s a day I’m feeling a little more blessed and thankful. It’s a day I just want to spend with my kids and husband enjoying each other’s company. It will be a day filled with delicious food. I overheard whispers of the menu they will all be cooking for me.
(me and the kids at the zoo before my surgery)
This is a cheesecake that has become a staple in our house. My mom is the queen
of cheesecakes. Mom’s cheesecake is always requested whenever we are invited to a friend’s house for dinner or a party. I will leave the baked kind to her as they are simply amazing.
This cheesecake is quick and delicious. Luca likes to eat it for breakfast! The whipped cream folded in the cheese mixture makes it not as heavy. I love the convenience of not having to bake it. You can add your favorite jam on top or eat it in all it’s cheesy glory without any topping.
Stawberry No-Bake Cheescake
- 1 1/4 cups graham cracker crumbs (9 graham crackers)
- 2 tablespoons sugar
- 3/4 stick soft unsalted butter
- 10 ounces cream cheese
- 1/2 cup powdered sugar
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
- 1/2 teaspoon lemon juice
- 1 cup heavy cream
- 1 (10-ounce) jar of your favorite jam. I used organic strawberry.
Grind the graham crackers in a food processor until beginning to turn to crumbs, then add the sugar and butter and pulse again to make the mixture clump. (If using graham cracker crumbs, you can use a bowl and wooden spoon to mix the butter in, with the sugar added. )
Press this mixture into a 8-inch springform pan; press a little up the sides to form a slight ridge.
Beat together the cream cheese, sugar, vanilla and lemon juice in a bowl until smooth.
Lightly whip the cream, and then fold it into the cream cheese mixture.
Spoon the cheesecake filling on top of the graham cracker crumb base and smooth with a spatula.
Put it in the refrigerator for 3 hours or overnight.
When you are ready to serve the cheesecake, un-mold and spread the jam over the top.
Did you see how easy that was? Now when you are craving cheesecake, there is no excuse for you not to whip one up!Happy Mother’s day to all the wonderful moms out there! You all deserve to be celebrated each and every day!
My daughter saw my post up last night while I was working on it. She told me it was sad and that she loved it. She told me she wanted to write something for me. I’m touched by her sweet story and I wanted to share it here. I am sure I will lose it in a box somewhere. At least here it will be safe for her to see one day.
By Gabriella-9 yrs old
The day I found out my mom was going to have a surgery I knew she would be alright. She is always strong; she knows what medicine to give herself when she does not feel well. The day of the surgery I was at school so I didn’t know exactly what happened that whole day. In the morning I said goodbye, which was the last time I’d see my mom in perfect condition without a scar. I went to school without feeling sad. The hours passed one by one. The news of my mom’s surgery was spread to many of her friends. I can’t keep my big mouth shut so of course I told some of my friends in my class. When school was over my grandma picked me up. The next day (Friday), it was the same routine at school.
My mom slept at the hospital the first night. I felt sad and guilty that night because of all the times I was being bad when she was trying to be nice and stop me from being bad, and now she was laying in a bed in pain at a hospital. I didn’t know she had to sleep more than one night at the hospital. I found out she was staying longer. When my grandma picked me up, I got in the car and I called my dad to ask him if I can go to the hospital. He said no because my mom wasn’t feeling well. I passed the phone to my grandma and then I broke into tears. I was miserable. I never was alone more than a day from my mom. I got to the house still crying. My grandma from Italy was here staying with us for 5 weeks. She was lying on the couch with me trying to make me comfortable, but at the moment I wasn’t in the lovey-dovey mood. “Non voglio tuo braccio qui.” I said in Italian as I scooted away from her. She was probably sad but I didn’t go back. We were on the couch watching some show and then the phone rang. I went to go get the phone.
My next door neighbor called to tell me that he was going to bring me to see my mom. I was excited. I quickly got ready and then I left to go to his house. He got me a glass of Gatorade to drink. I hoped he didn’t notice my red face. We talked a little than we left to go by the hospital. He stopped at a stop sign and said, “Remember to always never text and drive”. Since we were at a stop sign he did his little text. “You know there is a school bus behind us waiting,” I said. It was true. He started driving and he made a phone call and talked almost the whole drive. He talked about some dog and he was saying the dog looked fine and there is probably no disease. He is a veterinarian so that is why he talked about a dog. He hung up. “What happened to the dog?” I asked. “The dog doesn’t have a disease; this lady is poor and has no money. I am helping her out a little,” he answered.
We arrived at the hospital. We went through the entrance and stopped at the desk to get to the room. I saw a penny on the counter and when the man wasn’t looking, I took it and put it in my purse (I know that finding a penny is good luck). We got in the room. My mom looked awful. My grandma was already there sitting on a chair texting my uncle. “You can have that muffin in that bag,” my grandma said pointing to a Panera bag. I took the muffin and started eating. I heard the story about how my grandma went in the hospital this morning and went through this exit door and set off a silent alarm. I am told not to go through those doors. I ate the whole muffin and I looked at my mom. “Come here and sit down,” she said half sleepy. I sat down and she passed me her hand. I smiled. I love my mother more than anything.
Thank you, my sweet Gabriella, for your story. Thank you for making me a proud mommy. Keep on writing.
I’m the luckiest mommy ever to two beautiful children. They are my greatest gifts.