Well, my birthday’s tomorrow. I have mixed feelings about birthdays, particularly mine. Usually the two weeks prior to the big day I find myself in a slightly introspective and uncharacteristically melancholy state of mind. I attribute this mainly to the passing of another year and taking stock of what I have accomplished during the three hundred and sixty-five days since my last birthday, and what I am looking forward to accomplishing in the days coming up. Always, I find myself glad to still be occupying air space. This, in itself, is something I’m thankful for every day.
My son and daughter-in-law and their two children came over last night to help me celebrate. Normally we are not in close enough proximity for me to share my day with them, but this year we are staying with my mother and her husband for five days which is close by so it worked out just perfectly.
I remember when my children moved out and took their first steps into adulthood without the benefit of my wings for protection. They were excited, as I remember I was at that age, at that taste of new-found freedom armed with what you taught them through the years, some that stuck and the rest that went in one ear and made a direct beeline to the other ear, disappearing unheard or unremembered into the wind.
In the beginning, when they had packed their last bag and headed out for new adventures, I would sit in their rooms, teddy bears now gone, and devoid of annoying piles of dirty laundry on their beds, and feel an amazing sense of loss. When you’ve nurtured and worried and laughed with your children for nearly twenty years and that role suddenly shifts, it’s a bigger transition for the parents, I believe. I remember questioning who I was now that I wasn’t their caretaker. How do I redefine myself?
After a few months I found myself enjoying a taste of freedom as well. Not that I didn’t miss them, I still do, but having had children at a very young age, I found myself on my own at forty with a world I still wanted to experience and explore. I also was pleased to note that my two young adults were getting along well, with the usual pitfalls and spills accompanying growing up, and that they still looked to good old mom when things got tough or they just needed to be reassured that I was still there.
Then, if you’re lucky, at least in my view, they get married and create new young beings that are interested in hearing your stories, and find small hands once again taking yours and familiar old books being read once again by you before bedtime, the cycle begins again in a new way.
So, being able to take my grandson and granddaughter out into the chilly night last night armed only with a flashlight and three vivid imaginations to slay dragons and fend off evil spirits, but mostly to feed the ghostlike images of ducks floating in the pond nearby, I was reminded of what’s important, and how life goes on as it’s supposed to.
Sausage Tortellini Soup
1 lb. bulk hot Italian sausage
1 large yellow onion, chopped
2 garlic cloves, minced
1/2 tsp. salt
1/4 tsp. freshly ground black pepper
3 14 oz. cans beef broth
2 14 oz. cans diced tomatoes
1 8 oz. can tomato sauce
1 1/2 cups dry red wine
2 carrots, sliced thin
3 tsp. Italian seasoning
1 tsp. sugar
3 small zucchini, sliced
1 9 oz. pkg. fresh cheese tortellini
1/2 bag fresh baby spinach
Parmesan cheese for garnish
Crumble the Italian sausage in large skillet. Add onion and garlic and brown until sausage is cooked. Drain.
Stir in broth, salt, pepper, oregano, undrained tomatoes, tomato sauce, wine, carrots, sugar, and Italian seasoning. Bring to boil. Reduce heat and simmer for 30 mins. Skim fat. Add zucchini, spinach, and tortellini. Simmer for 15-20 mins. longer. (8 servings)
Serve with freshly grated Parmesan cheese and cheesy garlic bread.