Mother’s Birthday

I just returned from St. Thomas where my mother lives. We just celebrated her 80th birthday – a milestone.

Although she really didn’t want to celebrate, it was acknowledged nonetheless. I told her that she’d won the race by making it to 80, to which she just smiled.

My mother has endured a lot of sadness in recent years, but as a very strong-willed, determined, Italian woman, she will not allow it to knock her down. She pushes on. She gets up each day and does her best to deal with whatever life throws at her.

I admire her fortitude.

On her birthday we walked along the waterfront towards American Yacht Harbor and Havensight to go to a Chinese/Thai restaurant that had opened the prior year. My mother absolutely loves Pad Thai noodles; the hotter, the better. This restaurant did not disappoint. She told the waitress that next time she’d like it even hotter; to which the waitress replied, “You’re just a hotty; aren’t you”! Yes, she is! Mother finished every morsel. I’ll admit it, so did I; however, mine wasn’t hot and spicy.

After lunch we walked back along the waterfront towards town and her place. Although it rained a lot while I was there, on this day the clouds chose to hold off on dumping the rain until that night. The afternoon was sun-soaked, and the water along the harbor appeared to glisten, like diamonds floating along the surface. Later that evening we had ice-cream, cookies and a slice of a pie she’d made. I started to sing “Happy Birthday”, but she stopped me before I even got through the first stanza.

Here’s my feeling on birthdays; each year we survive life on this earth and make it to another birthday, is cause for celebration. Life is hard; we face challenges every day that we are on this earth. There is no one like us; each one of us is as individual as our fingerprints and is worthy of celebration. As each loved-one departs this earth, it is imperative that we cherish each day we are here and cherish each loved-one who is here as well. I’ve always felt this way, but my mother’s milestone birthday really drove it home for me.

My brother Jeffrey’s time on this earth lasted for only 56 years, but he made the most out of every day of his life. My Nana made it to 101. She too made the most out of every day of her life. I miss them and my other family members who have gone too soon. Each one of them did the best they could, and cherished each day of their lives. They loved completely, and left their unique thumbprint on our hearts.

As we start to make our way towards the end of 2012 and the holiday season begins, remember to celebrate those loved-ones who are here and cherish each moment with them. The time spent with my mom is a blessing I hold dear.

One evening for dinner, Mother and I had a chicken dish that was prepared “Cordon Bleu”-style. Instead of ham, it was rolled with spinach. It was very delicious. I’ve made Chicken Cordon Bleu before, and I searched for a recipe that was made with spinach instead of ham, but had no luck. So, below is a recipe I made once before.

Spinach-stuffed Chicken (Cordon Bleu-style)

3 boneless chicken breasts pounded thin
6 slices of fresh mozzarella cheese
A bunch of fresh spinach – washed and patted dry
1 egg-beaten
flour for dredging
Italian seasoning
salt and pepper to taste
Italian breadcrumbs
¼ cup oil

Pound chicken breasts very thin. Add one slice of the mozzarella cheese, a handful of fresh spinach, Italian seasoning, salt and pepper.
Roll up and use a toothpick to hold it together.
Dredge the rolled chicken in the flour – dip in the beaten egg, then roll in the breadcrumbs

Heat oven to 350º oven

Heat a 12” skillet with oil
Place the rolled chicken breasts in the hot oil and brown on all sides (about 3 minutes)
Then place the browned chicken in a baking pan
Bake in oven about 30-45 minutes

Serve with rice, potatoes, pasta (whatever you choose)
Add a small salad