Her first question? "Can I cook at the shelter next week?"
Although she's been walking on a broken foot for days now, the only time she cried was when the doctor said, "No, I'm sorry. You can't."
Meatloaf Monday is a week away. I'm hoping we can find something Mom could do sitting down. I've never seen anything that made Mom as happy as making 110 pounds of meatloaf and stirring up vats of potatoes and baking cookies for people who don't usually get homemade cookies.
Last month, we went a little crazy with the cookies. 150 Rice Krispie-bar nests filled with pastel M&Ms; 10 dozen chocolate chip; 10 dozen peanut butter; 10 dozen oatmeal. We ended up leaving an full ice-cream bucket's worth home because we were afraid it seemed like too much. When we got to the church, people were scurrying around trying to figure out what to do because they didn't have enough cookies.
"How many do you need?" I asked.
At least 20 dozen, came the answer.
"Oh. Um...That's no problem. We have more than that in the car and even more at home. We'll go get the other bucket."
When we started unpacking the cookies, someone opened a box of Rice Krispie-bar nests. (We had filled shirt boxes with Easter grass and then nestled the nests into it.) "Oh, the kids would love these," the woman said. "But we can't put them out if there's not enough for every kid."
"How many do we need?" Mom asked, her voice and eyes filled with concern.
"At least 60."
"Then there's enough for each kid to get two." You could have saddled Mom's satisfaction and ridden it to town.
Mom not only kept up with every step of making dinner for 500 that day, she stayed to help serve the meal. She proudly set three cookies on each adult's plate. The children are served in a separate room, but she heard reports of how excited they were about the nests.
Mom didn't stop beaming for two days. She smiled in her sleep, even.
It would break her heart to miss a meatloaf Monday. That would be far worse than a broken foot.