When I was a girl, Mama sent Daddy to check on Mrs. Massey, a widow who lived a few blocks from us on Farrow Road in Columbia. She was without heat and needed coal. Mama thought there was no need for her to be without, so Daddy was to purchase coal and Mama would make sure there would be no cold or hungry days or nights for Mrs. Massey. Mama began sending cooked food to her and developed a meal plan with the other ladies of the neighborhood. Most of the time I had to deliver the food using a bushel basket. After that first delivery of coal and food, Mrs. Massey never wanted for heat or food until her passing. It taught me a lesson in neighborly giving and sharing.
The same kind of giving and sharing was in the heart of my mother-in-law, Roberta Faulkner. On one occasion while visiting in Kannapolis, N.C., we were told a nearby family had been evicted and was house-hunting. Row, as she was fondly called, said she could not provide living quarters but she would be able to feed the family. I helped her prepare dinner, which was enough to feed the family and then some, on a daily basis.
Recently, a neighbor came to borrow butter. I said I did not have any. I really meant that I had only a fourth of a stick. But, as I closed the refrigerator, I realized I had no plans for this fourth of a stick. I called the neighbor back to give her what I had. I also thought, "Am I thinking clearly?" My neighbor had none, and I nearly gave up a chance to give all I had to someone in need. I knew better; I had seen better. My actions should reflect the habits of those from whom I had learned. I could hear Mama saying, "You know better," and Row saying, "It does not hurt to give, it helps."
Traditions should be passed down because they tell the story of one's upbringing. They connect one to the past and shape identity. Mother's Day can be a time to connect with traditions. As it approaches, I ask myself if I am the true offspring of Anna Belle Moore Wilson. I should be molded with her traits and do those things that will not block blessings. My mother and mother-in-law were great cooks who kept a welcome table. That's a tradition I will continue to keep.
Columnist Ervena Faulkner is a Port Royal resident and a retired educator who has always had an interest in food and nutrition. Email her at firstname.lastname@example.org.