Saturday, June 12, 2010

Death and Brownies

I recently attended the funeral of a kind and gentle man from our ward. He always had a smile on his face. His dear wife died about four years ago, and following her death and because of his declining health, he began living at the Veteran’s Housing Facility in DC. Practically every week, he was visited by members of our ward and given the Sacrament during these visits. Occasionally one of his children would bring him to our Sacrament service. He always came the Sunday before Memorial Day, as he was a WWII veteran and a very proud patriot. He was probably the most patriotic person I ever knew. He always wore an American flag pin on his lapel.

This year, one week before Memorial Day Sunday, a number of ward members were all thinking the same thing – that we would see Walter Johnson, Sr. the following week at church. Very late that evening, I was on Facebook and I saw a post from our bishop, indicating that Walter had died earlier that evening. He died on the anniversary of his dear wife’s birthday. How fitting that they would reunite on such a special day.

His children decided that it would be appropriate to hold his funeral service as close to Memorial Day as possible. Two days following Memorial Day his service was held. The service was a fitting tribute to this wonderful man. So many wonderful things were said about him and his family during the service.

Following the service, there was a reception in the Cultural Hall. The family provided food for the attendees, of which there was close to 100. Here’s where the brownies come in. I really don’t like brownies, but there was this particular dessert which looked like a brownie with a Hershey’s kiss on top. I tried one and was amazed at the taste. Remember, I don’t like brownies. I had to have another one. I asked one of Walter’s daughter-in-laws if she had made the dessert. She indicated she hadn’t, but pointed me in the direction of her sister-in-law who did make them. I told her how much I enjoyed the treats and she told me how to make them. One of Walter’s four sons, married to the woman who made this delicious treats, agreed with me about how great they tasted. He also said Walter really enjoyed them.

In honor of Walter and these delicious brownies, I’m sharing the recipe – hope you enjoy these.

Brownie Bites

1 – Duncan Hines Family Style Dark Chocolate Fudge Brownie Mix
3 eggs
¼ cup water
½ cup vegetable oil

Dark Chocolate Hershey Kisses (you only need one bag)
Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Grease miniature cupcake pans with non stick cooking spray. Combine brownie mix, eggs, water and oil. Mix until well blended. Spoon mix into prepared pan (1/2 full). Bake for 10 minutes. Immediately upon removing from oven, place 1 Hershey’s Kiss on top of mini-cupcake. Remove cupcakes from pan and place on a wire rack until completely cooled.

Reunion and Remembering a Dear Friend

In 1997 a dear friend of mine died after a valiant 16 year fight against breast and ovarian cancer. Several months following her death, I was giving a talk in Relief Society entitled “Be of Good Cheer”. In preparation for the talk, I began to write down some of the adventures my girlfriends and I shared with Marcia. When I finished writing, I knew I had written the talk I would share on Sunday. Marcia must have been looking over my shoulder because so many memories came flooding back. I had lots of pictures to accompany the stories as well. We played lots of practical jokes on all the friends in our group – always in good fun, but always with the thought that one day, we’d be arrested for some of our antics (deeds we did in the middle of the night, fondly called “night raids”).

Fast forward to 2010 – I recently reconnected with one of Marcia’s daughters. She is the youngest of three girls – her older sisters are married and have children. She is single and still finding her way in this world. Many things have led to our reconnection and Facebook played a big part in our reunion. Although it took a few months, we recently met for dinner with another one of her mom’s close friends. After dinner we came back to my house, and I gave her a copy of the book I had created in memory of her mother. We sat together and laughed at the stories of the adventures we had in the past. I have made several copies of this book and plan to send her sisters their own copies. I’ve even made copies for the girlfriends who are part of these stories as well. I hope my friends will do something similar or add onto the book that’s already been created. I know her daughters love to hear about their mom’s adventures.

We always talk about keeping journals and sometimes that is hard for some of us. This book was a journal of our combined experiences. It really wasn’t that hard to do and it brought back so many great memories, and it certainly helped me pass the time while I was recuperating from my recent knee surgery.

So, if you’ve got some stories to tell, take the time to write them down. It’s easier to do this right after they happened instead of years later, when the memories begin to fade. What a great ride down memory lane.