Today’s Special

A strawberry waffle with bacon and a Mexican omelette.

Today’s specials were so good-looking, I had to take a picture.   (Thank you Nikki and Craig, for letting me photograph your breakfasts.)  I’ve been serving plates like these out of Rick’s kitchen for twenty three years, and the artistry of it never gets old to me.  Each Mexican omelette isn’t just an omelette.  It’s the omelette.

I was thinking as I took the photo that my mom would’ve loved either of these meals.  If she could see this blog, she’d say, “Oh!  Yum!  Send me one of those!”

I appreciate the many condolences and kindnesses given me since her unexpected death early in December.  I remain in many ways wordless.   I’m in here; I’m thinking; I just don’t know what to say.  As I told one friend, I believed I was a thoughtful adult and have found out I’m a foolish orphan instead.  A lucky orphan, though, I know that.  My mother was a fantastic parent.  She was stable, judicious, and loving.   I had her for a long time.  Forty seven years.  Old enough to grow up, you’d think.

I mourned my dad’s death deeply when he passed away sixteen years ago but was still unprepared for the depth of my confusion in the wake of my mother’s passing.  Not only general metaphysical confusion–because my mom was such a linchpin in our family; because she was something of a medical miracle in so many ways and kept surviving things pretty handily; because women in her family live to be not just old but really old:  95, 100, 102–but also basic physical confusion.  Forgetting things I don’t forget.  (Payday; tax day; the bills.)  Putting my clothes on inside out or backwards.   Notes or emails received, letters sent, phone calls made or neglected.  It’s true that mourners live in a different country than the unbereaved.  Communication between the two lands is often faint and confused.

Some days are flat, some are sad, some are fine.  Some are fine.  My mom would’ve wanted that, approved of it.  And some are not, which she would have also understood and appreciated.

“my feet will want to walk to where you are sleeping
I shall go on living.”
-Pablo Neruda―

Category: Today's Special 12 comments »

12 Responses to “Today’s Special”

  1. Amy J. Moore

    I’m so sorry for your loss. I’m dealing with my own mother, and her decline, and it isn’t easy. I love the Neruda quote. I was up there this summer, had not realized you were you and that I had read you until I had left. Still have the Whitefish Chowder indelibly marked on my tongue. I’d say feel better, but – feel – is really the only advice and
    thing to do.

  2. Lynn

    Sending sympathy, empathy. We were talking about another friend, and Lon said that while both parents can be loved and important, somehow it is our mother’s death which affects us most deeply. I remember the orphan feeling when our mother died…wait, just wait, I’m not ready for this. Thanks for writing this.

  3. Charlotte DeBroka

    So sorry for your loss. Keeping you in my prayers.

  4. Mary Hayes

    Ellen, I’m so sorry for your loss. And I’m so grateful for
    your insightful description of bereavement. My husband died four weeks ago and I, too, am somewhat wordless. I had him for 48 years. Thank you for helping me understand that I’m living in a different country, temporarily at least.

    Dear Mary, I am so sorry for your loss. My thoughts are with you.

  5. Pamela Grath

    You have expressed this very well, Ellen, and I appreciate your being able to share the continuing confusion. We had a phone call a few nights ago with the news that Bessie C. had died. It’s never time, and the world is never the same afterward. Love to you, friend!

  6. Nichole

    Ellen – I am returning to “the real world” after an extended weekend in the UP. Our diner experiences (breakfast on Friday and Sunday) were both wonderful! That waffle is really something special, as is everything that came to our table! I bought Prairie Evers yesterday morning and finished it a few hours ago on the car ride back to Indianapolis. I really enjoyed her character and loved reading about the simplicity of the farm through her eyes! I am looking forward to passing this along to my 10 year old sister in law, who helped watch our kids while we had our long-overdue getaway.
    Thanks for the delicious food and reading entertainment! Your diner is charming!

  7. Patty Maguire

    Hello Ellen, somehow I missed knowing this. I am so sorry that your mother passed. And I thank you so much for your words about the effects on you of her death. My brother, the 1st of several siblings to die, died this last summer. I’ve been thinking I have the beginnings of dementia, I’ve been so caught up in a kind of enertia and forgetful, of dates – appts. – words. Maybe this is the effect of losing someone you love. I hope your heart heals well and soon. Patricia

  8. Connie Harris

    Dear Ellen,
    I am so very sorry to learn of the passing of your beloved mother. It’s that a piece of your heart is forever gone and your body knows it.

    Just be kind to yourself and let it be. My dear mother passed away almost 18 years ago and I’m still a motherless child. You always want to be someone’s kid.
    Thinking of you,

  9. John McLintock

    Beautiful words, Ellen.
    My father-in-law’s passing last Thursday was a slow-motion replay of my mother’s nearly 15 years prior. He passed on the same day as N45 Retreat attendee Teri Elliott – she skipped last year sans a short visit to Curtis from Cheboygan to share a smile with the tribe. I was numb over this, but am now writing the “Snow-covered cracks..” premise we chatted about at Chamberlin’s and would love your input, if not collaboration.
    Thank you for your perspectives, and comfort food!
    God bless.

  10. Pam Gardner

    I lost my mom in July of 2012. It is never easy but it gets a bit easier with time. Now I find myself smiling more when I think of her, or see something I’d like to show her or read a book she would love. She was my best friend. I miss her every day.
    So sorry you lost your Mom. I wish I could pop right into your restaurant and eat one of those yummy breakfasts and give you a big hug.

  11. Pamela Grath

    Coming back to say that Rick’s omelet and waffle look so good I can hardly stand not to be in Grand Marais!

  12. Vernice Faleris

    Dear Ellen, my condolences on your mother’s passing. My own died 22 years ago when I was 46! I miss her still, but am now her age when she passed! I just read you first book, it was so true to life for the UP! I live in the woods north of St. Ignace and , alone now for 21 years! I’m a lot like Mary, just a little more materially blessed. I can hardly believe this was your first book, you have a gift! God bless your work. One of my five daughters just finished her first book, I pray hers does as well as yours! Vern

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