It was just a normal day working at my Mom’s craft store when I was about 20. The phone rang and I answered it. It was an older woman asking for directions to our store. I was a little nervous – not sure why, she just kind of made me feel that way. It was a warm day and the front door was propped open. I heard a car pull up and I just knew it was the woman on the phone. She walked in and with the meanest face and a pointed finger she looked me in the eye and said” Are you the snot nosed brat that gave me directions?!” Holy Lord- “Yes….” “Good job kid!” For cripes sake-
That was the beginning to a very deep and powerful relationship. Naomi and her husband Frank came in frequently after that. She loved to cross- stitch. They would get up at 5 in the morning, she would stitch and then they would tear apart one room and totally clean it. Eventually she wanted me to custom frame her beautiful works. I took extra care. As I spent more and more time with them I saw this dynamic relationship between her and her long time husband. Every time they introduced themselves he referred to her as his bride. She was teaching me things without me even knowing it. Naomi always carried peppermints in her pockets. She said that they were great for an upset stomach. She always gave me one just in case. She told me never ever go to bed fighting- you kiss and make up. I learned that they had lost twins and triplets. I realized after that that God had put us together. I had become the Daughter she never had. One day she came in like a ray of sunshine and had a white paper lunch bag in her hand. She proudly set it on my framing table and said it was a treat just for me. I unrolled the top and it was amazing- the smell, the look, the thought- it was a perfectly cut piece of lasagna she had made. She was so proud. This became a wonderful ritual, one of which I really looked forward too. One day she gave me her recipe. She told me step by step from her memory and told me to guard it with my life- she didn’t just give this to anyone. I was amazed at the simplicity of the recipe- it was homey and delicious.
In the next year, a lot happened. I met Craig, got engaged and by that November it became clear that my Naomi was ill and was not able to attend our wedding. The reception was near her house and we wanted to stop in but it didn’t work out. It made me so sad that she wasn’t there on my biggest day. She had become a Mother to me. She had Frank tell me that it was heart problems but I knew it was cancer. 7 ½ months passed and I was 6 months pregnant with Chelsie. I was at home and suddenly doubled over – my heart hurt. Just then my mom called to tell me Naomi had collapsed of a heart attack and died. We had become that close- I felt her. I went to her funeral completely devastated. She was gone. I learned about her love for sunflowers during her eulogy – I had no idea. I went home to Craig and we planted 26 giant variety sunflowers in our garden. I had never planted them before- I had hoped that they would come up.
This picture was from that summer- 26 sunflowers had not only come up but surpassed what the package proclaimed for height. Naomi was with me. Funny thing, a sunflower has popped up every summer even when I haven’t planted one. This summer will be 26 years. I think she’d be proud of how her only “daughter” grew up. I miss her so. Naomi, I am sharing your recipe because it’s simplistic, it’s homey and delicious. And most of all, I’m sharing our story so maybe someone will find that once in a lifetime connection – plant the seed, water it and watch it grow- another lesson Naomi… and one more thing, I love you with all my heart- Teri
View Naomi’s Lasagna recipe!