Happy Birthday, Mom


Post by community member:

As I get older, and older, and older, the more I realize just how much I miss my mom. And just how much she gave to me that I didn’t know I had. Her birthday is tomorrow, May 12th. She entered this world in 1917. She left us in 1993. She would have been 95 years old this year. Her name was Mary Veronica Gregor. She was born and raised in Gary, Indiana. She went to Emerson High School and lived on 4th and Carolina for most of her young life.

I recently have been thinking a lot about her. May was her month. Mother’s day, her birthday…sometimes the two coincided. Looking back, every day should have been mother’s day.

Most of my memories of my mother were kitchen, garden and canning-related. My kitchen is full of relics of her.

I took a tour of my kitchen today and found that everywhere I looked, there she was. In things I use every day, in things that just adorn the shelf, in things that are packed away for safe-keeping.

Just a few days ago, I used this recipe to make a pie crust. I had never used this recipe before. I had never made a decent pie crust before. But I succeeded this time.


{Printable: Mom’s Never Fail Pie Crust}

This is her flour sifter. She baked a lot. And now, so do I. And I still use this sifter.


This is her ancient coffee mill. She never used it for coffee. She ground poppy seeds in it for poppy seed roll at Christmas. I also still have her old Foley food mill. She milled endless bushels of tomatoes to make sauce and soup that she canned.


And I have all her old aluminum cookie cutters with the wooden handles. I used them to make sugar cookies from the recipes in these old cookbooks.


These are her roosters. Roosters adorned every surface in her bright yellow kitchen with the golden knotty pine cabinets.. I get my longing for chickens honestly. She collected roosters of all sorts…ceramic roosters, rooster salt and pepper shakers, rooster figurines, rooster cookie jars…


… and this rooster trivet. I inherited all of her wrought iron trivets. She needed them all because of the vast amount of cooking she did each and every day. She needed them to hold all the hot dishes she prepared.


This is the crock she stored our sauerkraut in. The crock now contains a plant that I’ve kept going for almost 20 years. After my mother died, I took her things with me, and this plant that adorned the table in the front room. It was the last living thing in the house that my mother had cared for. Besides me. And I’ve managed to keep it alive.


My mom was brilliant. She had wanted to be a writer. When she was in high school, she published poetry in the Gary Post-Tribune under the pen name of Greg of Yore. When she was in high school, she was offered a full scholarship to the University of Chicago to pursue her studies. Girls didn’t go to college and my grandparents refused to let her go. Instead, she married the carpenter from West Virginia that had helped build my grandparents’ new house. And that’s why I’m here today, writing about her…

I just wanted to honor my Mom today, and share a little of her with you. She is why I cook, and write and garden and do everything I do.

The last words she said to me before she died were “You’re great.” I may not agree with her, but I do know one thing. She certainly was.

murphala blogs at FlourWaterYeast&Salt.

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  1. kellyb says:


    What a beautiful tribute to your mother. Isn’t it wonderful to walk around your home and see constant reminders of someone you love? Thank you for your great post.

  2. Butterbean says:

    That was a lovely tribute to your Mother!!! Thanks for sharing this precious post with us, I enjoyed reading it this morning.

  3. STH says:

    Wonderful post. Thank you!

  4. marymac says:

    What wonderful memories you have of your mother! Loved reading your post, , made me think of my own memories and how special my mom was also, so much like yours. Thanks.

  5. brookdale says:

    What a beautiful tribute to your mother! Thank you for posting it.
    My mother was also born in 1917. Unfortunately, she died at a young age in 1970. I still miss her to this day, and have some of her kitchen things with me as you do.

  6. maybeth says:

    murphala … lovely remembrances of your Mother … thank you for sharing this touching post with us. ?

  7. maybeth says:

    That was supposed to be a ‘heart’ up there at the end of my post, murphala, where the ‘question mark’ appears 🙁 … I saw the heart, but it was not there after I posted.

  8. Lorraine Swazey says:

    Wonderful post –thanks for sharing and bringing back my own fabulous simple memories!! Rain

  9. Anita says:

    Beautiful! Thanks so much for sharing this – it’s a reminder of how fortunate I am to still have my own mother. I feel more fortunate every day she remains here on earth. And she had those fighting cocks too! I wonder whatever happened to those…

  10. Mrs.Turkey says:

    That was a well written tribute to your mom. I loved it! Made me wish I had more of my mom’s things. She died very young and I at the time didn’t think to keep some of her items and many were passed on to others. Lot of items sold with a camp that she and dad had.
    But I do have memories and they serve me well.
    Thanks again for that tribute….!
    Mrs. Turkey

  11. murphala says:

    I’m glad I could share my memories with all of you. I felt like this was the place to do it, you’d all understand. And maybe relate, but I hope not…I hope your mothers are all still with you and you can celebrate their day, every day, with them! Hugs to all…

  12. lisabetholson says:

    How beautiful Murphala, thank you for sharing.

  13. Euni Moore says:

    What lovely memories you shared. I love having things in the kitchen which belonged to Mom and Grandmother as well as sliving in the same house. Thanks sharing with us.

  14. Lana says:

    Murphala, what a wonderful Tribute to your mother! I’m sitting here with tears running down my face – my mom’s birthday is May 3, 1921. She had to share her birthday with Mother’s Day, also! We lost her 6 years ago. She was an amazing woman. Cooking was not her favorite thing, but she was an excellent “meat and potatoes” cook. Her steaks, roasts, and spaghetti were to die for! That is the reason I love to bake – my job was cakes, pies, cookies, etc. I miss her terribly, especially this month. She was not only my mother – she was my best friend. Thank you for the great remembrance!

  15. lesliedgray says:

    Thank you for your wonderful post….. I, too save little inconsequential things that belonged to my beloved grandmother. “MiMi” was born in 1912 and would have been 100 years old this year.. It’s hard to believe that she has been gone for 12 years.. I miss her so, miss her stories of her life on their louisiana plantation when she was a girl..She was one of those grandmothers that you only see on TV now.. She “grandmothered” EVERYBODY! Everyone called her MiMI, as we did. She taught 5th grade for at least 3 generations that I can think of. If you’ve ever read Shel Silverstein”s book “The Giving Tree”, you would know my grandmother’s heart.. She was that tree. She gave so much of herself to anybody and everybody. She was also an awesome cook! Not fancy, but good! Many of my recipes start with “MiMi’s….” at the top. My kitchen is a veritable shrine to her; her muffin and pie tins, crockery mixing bowls, her marble “biscuit ” slab, a tin measuring cup with a pin hole in the bottom, so if you are measuring liquids, you’d better measure and pour! I have her aluminum bread box that also has built in canisters for flour, sugar, cornmeal. I have her cheese grater, old sunflower melamine plates, her “good” everyday plates, her pitcher, her wood-handled pastry tool that she (and I) use to cut shortening into the flour for biscuits.. I even kept her calendar with her notes penciled in each day as to the weather or events on that day..All of these things make me think of her when I look at or use them; keeping her memory alive is important to me. As long as her memory is alive, she won’t really be gone.

  16. abhaya says:

    Thanks for writing this. My mothers b-day was the 10th. I thought about her all day yesterday and then when I saw your pictures I felt like you’d peeked into my life! I have all Moms recipe cards written in a very similar hand and kitchen utensils she used as well. The very same coffee grinder sits on my counter and also never once ground any coffee that I can recall. So many threads connect us all. Thanks again for sharing!

  17. maybeth says:

    Yes, murphala, I do still have my “Ma” … she will be 85 this year … I like to tell her that I ‘learnt’ my cooking skills from her, because it is true. One thing, though, that she and I seem to disagree on is this … I very definitely remember making supper for our family of six (parents and me and my three siblings) one time when I was ten years old – I’m the youngest of the four kids – it was hamburgers, mashed taters and a veggie (I don’t remember what veggie) … my Ma says that she NEVER told me I had to make supper for the family at that age – I told her, You didn’t MAKE me do it – I WANTED TO DO IT! 🙂 LOVE YOU, MA!!!

  18. katpecosa1 says:

    I love this tribute! My Mom passed away last October, and the month prior while my Sister and I was away for the CITR retreat in September she had my husband go thru all of her things that we packed away from her house when she moved in with us. I came home to my kitchen full of her old platters, dishes, pots, and pans. They really mean alot to me, and I treasure them because they remind me of her. I know they are material things, but they really help keep her memory close.

    Thanks so much for sharing!!

  19. murphala says:

    I just wanted to say that my mom died the year they invented the world wide web…so she never got to experience it. But let me tell you, she would have LOVED this place, this site, CITR…she would have been on here every day, and she would have loved all of you! Thank you all for letting me share this with you. 🙂

  20. JerseyMom says:

    Oh my….this post brings so many things into focus for me. I tend to try to make it fuzzy because I miss my mom so very badly. Lost her 3 years ago to the breast cancer and treatment aftermath. We had many difficult health years together but they were still sweet because we WERE together. When she went home just before her 70th birthday I kept pretty much everything I could despite the ‘make a clean start, give it away’ mindset I was surrounded by. Still have most of it and love it. I want so much to be reminded of her and like you, I cherish her ‘stuff’. I also have things from her mother, my beloved Grandma…including a pair of black metal roosters! They are not JUST like yours but pretty close. Thanks for sharing!!

  21. odell says:

    Thank you for this wonderful tribute to your mother. Really touched my heart. I still have my mom but… she doesn’t know me. Dementia 🙁 She lived with us 4 years until a stroke. I go see her several times a week. Everyone says “that must really hurt you that she doesn’t know you” but it doesn’t because I know how much she loved me and I STILL KNOW HER, I can look into those eyes I’ve looked into all my life. She tells me I’m pretty (LOL)and holds my hand and kisses my cheek. She was born April 5, 1920 in Knox Co. KY She is the last of 11 kids. So even tho my mom is physically here, I can relate to what you feel for your mom. Again, thank you for sharing and reminding me who my mom was.

  22. Pete says:

    Oh, yes, many of us share your enthusiasm and joy in using little things that have been in the hands of our mothers and grandmothers. Thank you so much for bringing that wonderful feeling out this morning.

    Was sitting here missing my Mom, too. She’s been gone 3 years now, and would have been 100 last January. But, there are so many ways that she is still with me, and those are where the focus is today.

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