When I wrote my book “Travels with Taffy and other Tales” and the Chapter called “Amy’s First Christmas Recital” I had forgotten that “the woman” in the tale had also given a small copy of the book “Chicken Soup With Rice” by Maurice Sendak to our daughter Jody.
The passing of Maurice Sendak this week has brought back a flood of memories about our lives over thirty years ago when our kids were very small!
The original chapter in my book and its more than touching epilogue follow:
Amy’s First Christmas Recital
There was a wonderful country inn style restaurant named “The Butcher Block” in the middle of the village of Hockley, Ontario, Canada. The year was 1978, Amy was three and Jody still going everywhere in her car seat. The restaurant was owned by Hugh and Sonja Close. We knew them quite well, after this event we knew them a little better.
It was near Christmas and Cheryl’s Mum and Dad, my in-laws were visiting. One evening, it might have been Christmas Eve, off we went to The Butcher Block for dinner. Gerry, that’s Amy’s Grandpa, filled Amy’s glass with a little wine and as the time passed, unbeknownst to us he refilled it a time or two. Amy by now was a little less shy than normal, and she began singing Christmas Carols at the table. It was not a large restaurant. Everyone was listening. Hugh Close, the proprietor asked if he could borrow Amy for a few minutes. Off they went hand in hand through a door at the side of the restaurant which led to Hugh’s home which was attached to the restaurant.
Several minutes rolled by and we wondered if they were lost. The door finally opened, and Amy and Hugh came through it with big smiles on their faces. Amy headed back to our table and Hugh headed for the restaurant’s sound system which was playing Christmas Carols. He took a cassette from his pocket and inserted it in the tape deck. In a few moments, Amy’s little voice was filling the room with Christmas Carols and songs. People began to sing along.
A woman at a table a few feet away beckoned Amy to her table. From her purse, she extracted an Eeyore stuffed animal which she gave to Amy. I think Amy still has Eeyore. I do wish I could remember the woman’s name. I do know that she had just opened a small craft store down the road at Violet Hill on Highway 89 named “Granny Taught Us How”.
The snow was falling, Amy was singing, and we had a great meal.
Who could ask for more?
Well I did get more, I added an epilogue to this story and it goes like this:
Epilogue for this tale
After writing the above story, I searched the internet to find www.mrsmitchells.com. Mrs. Mitchell’s is the website for both Granny Taught Us How and Mrs. Mitchell’s restaurant. Just before Christmas 2002 as I started writing these tales, I sent an email to try and learn the name of the “woman” who gave Eeyore to Amy in the story above.
I received the following reply:
My name is Heidi and I am the daughter of that “woman” in the restaurant.
I just received your story and I phoned my mother right away to read it to her. She recalls that night and we certainly remember the Eeyore because she used to make them. It is so nice to hear that she touched your life in a small way back then but I am writing to tell you how much you have just touched hers. My mother has just completed an enormous amount of treatment for breast cancer. She is the toughest lady I have ever known and she has just heard word that she has beaten the cancer.
Although she is very happy to know she is well, the cancer has affected her in ways I cannot explain. She is forever fearful that it is still lingering inside her and is therefore often sad.
The fact that so many years later you have attempted to find her to tell her your story has lifted her spirits like you cannot imagine. I am a true believer that all things happen for a reason and although you may not have intended to, you have just made her Christmas such a special one.
So here I am on May 9th 2012 with a tear in my eye remembering this wonderful night in 1978 and the epilogue above from 2002 and of course Maurice Sendak who touched our family through the years as we would recite,
Chicken Soup with Rice.
In January it’s so nice
While slipping on the sliding ice
To sip hot chicken soup with rice
Sipping once, sipping twice
Sipping chicken soup with rice
In February it will be
My snowman’s anniversary
With cake for him and soup for me!
Happy once, happy twice
Happy chicken soup with rice
In March the wind blows down the door
And spills my soup upon the floor
It laps it up and roars for more
Blowing once, blowing twice
Blowing chicken soup with rice
In April I will go away
To far off Spain or old Bombay
And dream about hot soup all day
Oh, my, oh, once, oh, my, oh, twice
Oh, my, oh, chicken soup with rice
In May I truly think it best
To be a robin lightly dressed
Concocting soup inside my nest
Mix it once, mix it twice
Mix that chicken soup with rice
In June I saw a charming group
Of roses all begin to droop
I pepped them up with chicken soup!
Sprinkle once, sprinkle twice
Sprinkle chicken soup with rice
In July I’ll take a peep
Into the cool and fishy deep
Where chicken soup is selling cheap
Selling once, selling twice
Selling chicken soup with rice
In August it will be so hot
I will become a cooking pot
Cooking soup of course-why not?
Cooking once, cooking twice
Cooking chicken soup with rice
In September, for a while
I will ride a crocodile
Down the chicken soup-y Nile
Paddle once, paddle twice
Paddle chicken soup with rice
In October I’ll be host
To witches, goblins and a ghost
I’ll serve them chicken soup on toast
Whoopy once, whoopy twice
Whoopy chicken soup with rice
In November’s gusty gale
I will flop my flippy tail
And spout hot soup-I’ll be a whale!
Spouting once, spouting twice
Spouting chicken soup with rice
In December I will be
A baubled, bangled Christmas tree
With soup bowls draped all over me
Merry once, merry twice
Merry chicken soup with rice
I told you once, I told you twice
All seasons of the year are nice
For eating chicken soup with rice
Written in memory of Maurice Sendak 1928-2012 and Maureen Baufeldt (1942-2011)