I was so moved by a recent comment from “Lisa” I just have to share it here with everyone, especially with the holidays approaching. It’s a beautiful story of love, loss, family, and the healing power of food.
Lisa first wrote:
Made these (Lemon Brownies) for the first time last year as part of my massive christmas cookie platters for family. Huge hit! So good that I wanted them all to myself but I took the high road and added them to the platters. Just made these again for my Uncle who traveled from Colorado to NY to see family for the first time since he lost both his parents and his wife all within 3 months. I wanted to bring him some comfort as his wife (my Aunt) was such an amazing baker. I brought these to him and he just kept smelling them and then dove in. He LOVES lemon and he told me that these were an absolute blessing! It made him open up and talk about memories of his wife. How wonderfully healing is that? Jenny, just wanted you to know how much of an impact this lovely space you’ve created and your recipes that are shared with so many loved ones across the planet. Thank you so much!! Family is everything.
Lisa, your letter brought me to tears. You are so kind to share this with me and I’m so very sorry for the losses endured by your uncle. To think that this simple recipe brought comfort and healing to someone who is suffering means so very much to me. We all know that foods can heal the body when we’re sick but you reminded us that when you cook from the heart for someone in need, there is no better gift. Thank you for sharing this with us and for showing your uncle how much he is loved. ❤️
Lisa wrote back:
Jenny, thank you so very much for your kind words. By leaving my story here in this wonderful space you’ve created, I was planting a tiny seed of hope, sprinkled with love, wishing the message would find it’s way to you and others and continue it’s journey across the world to inspire ways of keeping us all connected. I thought that with the high volume of comments here, you might not see it – but then again, you just might – and you did & responded. In this busy world, that’s a testament to your beautiful heart and a reminder that we should never lose hope. You are absolutely right about the power behind reaching down within ourselves to help others who are hurting, especially if we, are hurting as well. The smallest kindness (a tray of lemon brownies) can spark a wave of healing. How many family stories are anchored by people gathering and the sharing of food? It can also bring complete strangers together – creating a new bond over common ground – and can be so very healing to the giver and receiver.
The other end of my Uncle’s story (his wife and he had been together since the 8th grade, married 54 yrs) was that he was traveling to NY to stay and visit with his sister (my Mom). So, she also had lost her parents (my Grandparents, married for 74 years, my Grandmother from Alzheimer’s, my Grandfather from being 92 and the completely-at-home caretaker to someone with Alzheimer’s) and a very dear sister in law (my Aunt from cancer) and then, a few months later, her husband (my step Dad to Alzheimer’s). So, when I brought your simple lemon brownie recipe to my Mom’s home, for her and my Uncle – it was anything but a simple recipe – it was also for my Grandparents, my Aunt, my Step Dad and, lastly, myself. We were all burdened by loss but continue to look around us to see the precious connections that remain and by sharing our family memories while sitting there enjoying your lemon brownies, we fed our souls with the beautiful journey that is life and celebrated the connection to those who we have lost in this world but will remain forever connected to. After I left my Mom’s that day, she told me that my other Uncle (their other brother who had also lost both parents) stopped by to visit with both of them that same day. She sent him home with some of those healing lemon brownies to share with his family.
I also want to mention that I was extremely close to my Grandmother and some of the best memories were baking with her. I had her handwritten recipe for dinner rolls – that she always made for family gatherings – put onto a tea towel and gave as gifts to family members after she passed. I spoke of this at her funeral and afterwards, extended family members came up to me and asked for her recipe to share with their families. I turned my spare room in my tiny house into a baking room, filled with family photos on my Grandparent’s hutch that moved from house to house with them that now resides with me, my Grandmother’s baking apron hangs on the door, her old pyrex dishes and rolling pin, not only displayed but still very much in use. I am surrounded by memories and love in that baking room and I definitely feel like I am baking with my loved ones there.
And so, the tiny seed, sprinkled with love, continues its journey, ever upward and outward, in it’s never-ending journey to connect us all. Thank you, Jenny. You are a gift. You are that seed.
Here’s my Grandmother’s dinner roll recipe – in her hand writing that I had added to a tea towel to gift to family members. (as well as my Grandparent’s wedding photo that lives in my baking room):
I wanted to you to have it as a tangible reminder of the power of sharing recipes and stories with each other, although I know I’m preaching to the choir on that point. In one of the photos (the middle one) your one bowl lemon brownies recipe is in my go to recipe book in the left hand back part of the photo). I should make another batch of lemon brownies and put this tea towel next to the goodies and your recipe & take another photo and send that to you. (Sadly, I found the empty lemon brownie dish sitting in my sink this morning. My hubby who’s not a sweets kind of person – and who usually saves the last of something good for me – told me how great those lemon brownies were! Emphasis on ‘WERE.”) 😉 He said “Oh Wow! So moist! So light!” Back to the store for lemons!
Lisa, you’re an inspiration. Thank you again for sharing your story. ❤️ – jenny