L is for Leftovers

Today's post is brought to you by our lovely daughter, who is normally leaning over her lettuce in the garden, or logging onto her laptop.  She's a whiz at making lemon meringue pies.     

"L is such a lovely letter, for words like licorice and lace. The letter L lights up your face, why not la-la-la-laaaaaa with me?” –  Ernie from Sesame Street.

While my family has never been homeless or poor, we’ve often been paycheck-to-paycheck and sometimes even paycheck-to-credit-card-to-paycheck.  But, as a rule, God has always provided exactly for our needs, with little leftovers.  I’ve never doubted the provision of my Lord, but, my Lord - have I been on the verge! 

It seems however empty our wallets might feel, our fridge is always full of Pyrex and Tupperware and Ziploc and folded up foils. We may not have the fixings to make a full meal where we all eat the same thing, but we have always had enough leftovers for us all to have something. 

My mom is a chef and a baker and a homemaker extraordinaire. You may have picked up that she’s crafty and creative in this blog, or you might have some of her quilt work on your bed to keep you cozy.  

Growing up, we were often running through the kitchen calling out to her- unhelpfully- “What’s for dinner?”  It didn’t really matter what was for dinner, since we were going to be eating it no matter what it was, but we were curious.  It must have exhausted her to be drilled all day about the menu.  It didn’t take too long for her response to become as creative as her quilts: "We're having snake lips." 

We had snake lips casserole, snake lips stew, snake lips and macaroni.  And our fridge was full of snake lips leftovers.

Leftovers don’t get the reverence they deserve, really.  They make good lunches for school the next day.  They can be a good reminder of a family conversation or moment the night before. Some even taste better cold than they did hot, or have more flavor as leftovers than the first time around.  

I think sometimes, the worst times in my life, I was a leftover.  I was left behind by people I trusted, closed out of a too-full class, and even kicked out of a few things.  

But, if I hadn’t become a leftover, I would never have figured out I loved Chemistry more than I’d love Med School, or that it’s more fun to be a youth minister than a lab rat.  I would have missed out on finding the leftover gifts and loves in me.  And I wouldn’t be the wonderful pizza pie of snake lips I am today.

Some people are categorically leftovers; we don’t even see them as we pass them.

This past week, the assisted living facility where my grandparents live lost a widow to old age and illness.  She was a leftover from a husband who passed, a leftover seamstress from a closed dress shop, a leftover woman of independence means living in a community of leftovers. 

And yet, she was so tender, so sweet, so out-reaching.

She was losing her sight and teamed up with another nearly-blind fellow to play a humongous card at Bingo.  She held hands with the inconsolable, and she was quietly present among the irritable.  She had family who visited, and yet she became family for the other “leftovers” in her community.  She was like a snake lip casserole that tasted better the next day, finally allowing the seasonings of life to marinate her perfectly.

Then, just like that, she was gone.  We are all better for her life.

And I’m a little more grateful for leftovers.



Jaime said...

This is beautifully written. I just loved this post. Thanks to the both of you for sharing.

Brenda said...

Coming from a big family who ate a lot of leftovers, I can relate. However, I certainly enjoyed your analogy. Beautiful. I look forward to reading more!
Thanks for stopping by.

Retired Knitter said...

Wow, this was a GREAT post. Really. It reflects on some of the life I currently live as a caregiver for my mother. All I can say is WOW.

Great job.

Anita said...

Thank you for sharing & I can definitely identify with your post. My folks had a family business & when times were a bit leaner, my Mum was very creative with re-using food & recycling clothes. My favourite meal as a child was 'Mummy's mix ups' where she'd put it all together into a wonderful dish :)

Marianne (Mare) Baker Ball said...

Anita, I think I would be like your Mummy's Mix-up. I'm a gal who thinks most things taste better a day or two later. Thanks for stopping by!

Marianne (Mare) Baker Ball said...

RK, my daughter is wonderful w/ her grandparents, and we are blessed to have her close by for now. She has a tender heart for the elderly. I will pass on your kind words. I'm back in the driver's seat tomorrow. :-)

Marianne (Mare) Baker Ball said...

Brenda, I'll pass on your kind words to my daughter.It was helpful to have her step in today, as a family member died this week. My post tomorrow is entitled "Mourning." :-(

Marianne (Mare) Baker Ball said...

Thank you, Jaime, for popping in. :-) Have a restorative weekend.

Anonymous said...

Please tell your daughter that was a beautiful post. I agree with her about leftovers. They do have a lot of uses,and often do taste better the next day.
I also loved the analogy about the leftovers in society and how they're often overlooked gems.
I'm very sorry to hear about the death in your family.
I hope your family finds comfort during this time.

Marie said...

Thanks for stopping by my blog today. Wonderful to see another Florida blogger. :)
I have to tell you this is beautiful post! You brought tears to my eyes. Looking forward to my visits to your blog. :) I'm your newest fan. Hope you'll join me at women talk about life. :)

Anonymous said...

Sara, You forgot to mention leftover cherry pie. I know you are familiar with that by virtue of recent experience.

Lovely post.

Catherine said...

Mmmmm....lemon meringue pie is my favorite,
Thank you for visiting my blog the other day!

Anonymous said...

lemon meringue is my fav to this day. I grew up in those days. Mom baked, knitted, canned even did pickled eggs. She is now with the Lord. Those days were special and to this day. We have beautiful memories how Mom managed in bringing food upon the table. From the sweat from her brow. Tell your daughter a very good blog. Like it was yesterday .