Mary Panza at LarkTavern

This last week my daughter’s step mom lost her father. I will call her Sunshine. I really like Sunshine. She has been in my girl’s life since the split up and I couldn’t have asked for a better lady to be around my girl. You see, there have been lots of divorces and separations in my family though out my life and I follow my sister’s example of how to handle things.

My sister, I will call Mary Sally 2. My mother was Mary Sally and from the time I was born MS2 has been the second Italian mother to me. I have said it before and I will say it again, two Italian mothers in one lifetime are too many. On the other hand, I would be lost without my sister. The example she set for me was this: the kids come first and if that means eating shit as far as the ex is concerned, salt it and smile. What that means in non-South Troy speak is that you don’t talk mean about the ex or his new wife/girlfriend ever. If he was not abusive and simply just didn’t want to be together, that’s just life. You don’t have to like it but you still have to raise your children, work and keep your house. The adult dealings are to be kept between adults. She, to this day, NEVER talks shit about my nieces Dad in front of them. That is the duty of your sisters, cousins, and girlfriends: to listen to your shit. I like Sunshine. She is a hard worker and a nice person. I can say this without agenda. Trust me, I mean it. As anyone who is around me for more than 45 seconds knows, I hate the high road. It is uphill and I hate exercise.

When I found out about her loss, like the good Italian I was raised to be, I defrosted meat and began my gravy and meatballs. I called MS2 and told her I was cooking from the family and when and where the wake was being held. I called Sunshine and asked if it was OK to come over. I went over and hugged her. I meant it. See, my grief for my mother and Sammy is still pretty fresh. It never goes away; it just becomes a part of you. Sunshine said to me that the other Italians in her life have been cleaning her Dad’s house for company and cooking up a storm. She said that she doesn’t understand what it matters if the house is a mess. What I couldn’t say to her was that this is the time where you are going to have to let people take care of you. In the grand scheme of things, a messy counter doesn’t matter but this is how we show our love and you have to let us. It is how things are and get done. The women cook. They put themselves into what they bring because they love you. I finally take my place in a long line of these women. It is a tradition that stems from love and a desire to make things all right again. Even though we know it can never really be the same.

Sunshine, I can’t take away your grief. I wish I could. I can only say that I am glad my girl has you in her life. When you get around to functioning again, have the gravy and meatballs and know that there are many generations looking out for you. We are all on different plates and all with best intentions.