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Memories of Mom

Posted by Range Officer Rhonda on May 28, 2009

Making Do by Rhonda Esakov

In many of my writings, recipes and so on, I noticed a trend when I mentioned my mother or my grandmother, their comments and how they ‘handled’ things. Whether it was a lean year with no money, a foreign location or just a drop of the hat moment, mom taught me one of the most valuable lessons in my life without even knowing she was teaching or without me even knowing I was learnin’. That is the art of ‘making do’.

I think the first time I really noticed this was during our first stay in a foreign country. Subconsciously, I wrote about this in my memoirs. Later, I wrote it in short stories. I write it in recipes that I am trying out or sending to a friend. If there is not the exact right ingredient to put into a recipe, I always know what to ‘make do’ with. If I don’t have a gift to give someone, there is always something around that I can throw together and ‘make do’ with [a centerpiece, a sewn object]. If I don’t have the right first aid, there is something on hand to ‘make do’ with. If I don’t have a new dress to wear – yep – I can cobble something to ‘make do’.

I’ll share one of my sad memories of how I had to pass on ‘the make do principle’ to a young relative of mine. Out of the blue, I got a phone call from one of the young children of a relative. She was crying on the phone about nobody home [she was about 9-10 and watching her 2 years younger sister] and there was NOTHING to eat in the house. They weren’t very close by or I would have rushed over and fed them AND stayed in the house with them until a ‘responsible’ adult came home. But here’s what I did. While the little girl dragged the phone cord [what’s cordless??] around the kitchen, I had her look in the pantry, the cabinet and the ‘fridge. There really wasn’t much to be found. But what I have her find was this: ketchup, crackers, butter and spices. They needed something hot in their bellies but also, they were little and there is also the need for taste without yuck. While still on the phone, I talked her into boiling water and taught her how to make ‘ketchup soup’ with a few spices thrown in. These kids loved ketchup, so the idea wasn’t as nauseating to her as it was to me. I had seen her and her sister dip fries into ketchup, all the way to their knuckles, put it in their mouth, suck off the ketchup without taking a bite and then do a double dip. Ick!!! Anyway, while I had her warming the ‘soup’ slowly, I had her take a fork and mash some butter, add some cinnamon and sugar, then spread it on some crackers. I told her not to cover all the crackers, but only half of them. They sat down to a warm meal of Aunt Rhonda’s Okay soup and crackers for dipping and then had the delight of cinnamon crackers to top off the meal. I told her she couldn’t and could not let her sister eat any of the cinnamon crackers until after they each had a half bowl of soup. They ate it all and learned a valuable lesson – not making do, exactly, but to learn that some people are dependable and will help them in their most desperate moments.

So now, when I need to clean a nasty spot and don’t have any fancy store bought stuff, I make do. If I’m cooking – I have become a genius sometimes at substituting [another fancy word for making do]. I can make a rug out of plastic bags, a pair of breezy slouch pants from a sheet or a pillow case out of a shirt, rouge out of lipstick, a serving tray out of cardboard and pretty paper or foil, a centerpiece out of my endless supply of emergency candles and a little greenery from the yard and scraps of material, a baking pan of foil and more. I simply don’t often panic and rush out to a store when I need something quick or don’t have a vital piece. Like my mother inadvertently taught me, I have learned the art of ‘make do’ and hope if ever I pass anything on to my child, that it is to have faith and make do.


One Response to “Memories of Mom”

  1. Annika said

    I love this story! It really touched my heart!

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