My sons, Will, 46, and Tom, 44, have harassed me for decades about my cupboards being too full. They say I have food hidden everywhere and it falls out and nearly kills them. They say this while they are eating at my kitchen table with their mouths full of food. Oh, did I mention I cook for them, my lovely grandchildren, and their incredible smart wives?

I have never been a big box shopper. I do my shopping locally at Smith’s and Walmart or Walgreens. When, however, there is a sale on say, cake mixes, for $1, then I buy 10. About 17 years ago, our younger son, Tom, (special education teacher, married the adorable April) used to bring his wife out to Edgewood to “shop.” He’d bring in three to four brown paper shopping bags, and he would fill them up and drive home to Albuquerque. April, a real honest-to-goodness lawyer, would often question him about this practice, to which he would say, “Incompetent, Irrelevant and Immaterial.” No wait—that’s Perry Mason. My son would smile and say, “She will never know.” And I never did.

Bill hunts, and I can never figure if I am cooking elk, antelope or beef for dinner. I never knew how they all felt about my pantry until one December when they were all out here after a lovely Christmas dinner. You know those times when people are telling tales. Both boys were sure I had enough food stored for the Apocalypse. Our sons knew it would never come. Will works with physics, I don’t know what he does. His wife, Kirsten, also a doctor is in medical research. I am not sure about what she works on either, but she is very good at it. Now there are shopping shortages and we seem to have a problem. Imagine, they need eggs.

For further explanation about why I have such a full pantry, keep reading. Go get a tissue if there still are some in the house. When I was 16 in fall of 1963, my sister, Maggie, was three and my brother Arch was nine. My father, Dick, left. He just left, and our “Leave it to Beaver” mother, Arlene, went to work in real estate, though she had never worked outside the home before. It was a really bad year—Kennedy was assassinated, our house caught fire, I almost died of strep, our dog Tippy got killed, and I became a permanent babysitter and homemaker for my siblings. When I went to the kitchen to get them breakfast, there was a box of cereal, but no milk. They ate it dry. That evening when I went to fix supper, we had a pack of Macaroni and Cheese, again no milk; I used water.

I called my aunts, Mary and Margaret and my grandmother, Irene. They brought over food. My mother worked very hard, but I will never forget this. Today my brother and sister are doing well with full kitchens and happy hearts. I check on them, and I cook for them still.

We believe in miracles in this house. Yesterday I went to put some things under the stairs where I keep Christmas decorations. Lo and behold, there was a 12-pack of mega roll toilet paper, never opened. God is good.

This discovery led me to remember our adopted Uncle Max Torres. He worked with our Mom. That year he knew she was new “in the real estate business.” He had made a deal which gave him $175 for the month. He came to our house, brought bags of groceries, toys for Maggie and Arch, and for me a book on the Miraculous Stairway in Santa Fe. He gave Mom $50. Mom worked deals with Uncle Max for about 30 years. She introduced him to Juanita and was at their wedding, and they were friends for life.

They are all gone now, my Mom, Aunts, Grandma and Uncle Max. They look down on us sending us hope, strength and most of all La Familia. We have lots of it here in New Mexico. Roaring Mouse, blowing my nose on miracle toilet paper and remembering. Out.

Jo White
Jo White

From 1966 to 1971, Jo attended the University of New Mexico and Memphis State University, earning degrees in Communications, English, Journalism, Speech and Drama with history minors. At UNM, her hero was Tony Hillerman. She taught high school and middle school in city, country, and private schools for 30 years. Roaring Mouse is in its 25 th year. She can be reached at jomouse@aol.com