We buried Mom a month ago. Everything was so emotional. At 89 Mom turned to the church after decades of not setting a foot in a temple. I guess she was working for a ticket to heaven. What she liked the most about church was being part of the chorus. Her friends from church sang her favorite hymns. When we were kids she will sang to us old love songs, the one you can hear at a Saturday morning at an elderly home. She had a great memory. She only needed to hear a song one time and that was it, she had it in her memory. When most of her friends started to suffer from Alzheimer she got obsessed to proof that her memory was as good as it was when she was 20. She started to memorize dates, only useful for her grandchildren Social Studies classes. One day she read somewhere about a study which linked Alzheimer and aluminum. She called me and my brothers to make us throw away all our kitchen accessories that were made with aluminum because she was positive that was the reason of memory loss. We are hold our ground and didn’t please her. When I visited her the next day, all the pots and pans made of aluminum were in the curb. All the pots she used when we were growing up.
I had to took her to the mall to buy new pots. That day she wasn’t her old self. She was sad because she didn’t like the new pots but she was scared of using aluminum and losing her memory.
- I cooked in those pots for 25 years. Every single meal I gave to you, your father and brothers came from those. Now I had to throw them away.-she started sobbing a little. She asked me if I still made my own “sofrito”. The “sofrito” is a fresh blend of chopped garlic, onion, peppers, cilantro and coriander.
-Mom I don’t have time anymore. I buy it from the store-
-From the store?-she sighed- The one you buy in the supermarket is not clean. They even blend rotten ingredients. What a shame! All your generation will die because having things too fast and easy. Take me to the Farmer’s Market to buy the ingredients for the “sofrito”.
I took her because I really wanted to get over with it, go home and do my daily chores around the house. She made me pick the reddest peppers to make sure the “sofrito” came up very dark. The onions had to be firm and big. She didn’t give up when I tried to convince her about buying already pealed garlic.
-No way. Peeling them yourself makes the fresher “sofrito”. Plus you don’t know if who peel that washed their hands after using the restroom.-
I gave in and she smile her victory. We spent the rest of the afternoon peeling, chopping and crushing ingredients in the blender. We filled up several empty butter bowls with “sofrito”. We shared memories of all the picnic we had together and even the day Dad burned the turkey and we spent Thanksgiving at a fast food. At the end we were tired and smelling somewhat garlicky I had to go back home. She hugged me and gave me the “sofrito”.
-There is one way of doing things, the right way. It may take longer but is better. This is the way to make “sofrito”. I hope nobody takes the pots from the trash and die from Alzheimer. It will be better if you throw away your pots too.-
-Mom that’s a little bit over the top. We will be fine. We know what we are doing.-
-I just want the best for all of you because I love you that’s all.-
-You worry too much. See you tomorrow.-
The next morning her neighbor called to tell me she was taken in an ambulance. At the table there was several bowls of “sofrito” labeled for each of us. The service to bury her was pretty simple. All her friends came over to show condolences. Her sister came from the United States. The casket was closed as she wanted and we placed a picture we took last Mother’s Day. She loved us and was the best mother we could wish. I wonder if my kids know how much I love them and care for them.
-Gabriel and Alejandro, get dressed we are out of “sofrito” and we need to make more.-