giving thanks & tortellini salad for the mothers in our lives

This article was posted on: June 5, 2017

“Accept and adjust,” my aunt would always say to me. The older I get, the more these simple words have proven true. There are things every day that I relate to this quote. The weather for instance; why bother to worry? You can’t change it, but you can adjust. Grab an umbrella, close the windows and bake dinner, instead of grilling. It seems pretty easy … but not always, because we like to be in control. Have you ever left the house and you can’t find your keys or your cell phone, and you grumble because it totally throws off your scheduled day? Then, as you rush out the door late and drive faster than you probably should to make up the time, you happen to come across an accident. The realization sets in that if you would have been just a few minutes earlier, it could have been you. Like any Catholic mom or teacher taught us, you say a prayer for the people involved and a prayer of gratitude once you safely arrive at your destination. You are also grateful that your prayer to St. Anthony (our Catholic search engine) to find your keys and phone seemed not to intervene this morning!

My mom passed away when I was a 26-year-old young wife and mother. Boy have I ever yearned for her advice and help over the years. Just another time where I had to move forward, accept and adjust. I would have given anything for a little more time with my mom. I tried to barter, beg and plead with God. But God had other plans, and if hindsight is 20/20, I have earned perfect vision. You see, with the loss of my mom, I have been gifted with so many other wonderful women who have “mothered” me. I have been blessed to have different women in my life who have loved, supported and given unconditionally. I have had friends and family who have been brutally honest when I needed to hear the truth. I have worked with different ladies who never had children of their own, but were the epitome of motherhood. Quietly, my role models have been the caretakers of so many, without asking or expecting anything in return. I remember a complete stranger coming to me in a store on a difficult day as I juggled five children and reminded me how wonderful motherhood is and what a great job I was doing. Frankly, I couldn’t see it myself! Even complete strangers can mother us.

I am not proud to say it, but on a rare occasion I have thought, “That’s a face only a mother would love.” Well, my aunt would say it out loud to a new mother! My same aunt would often say we are all snowflakes, each unique. Well, one of my snowflakes had an uncanny resemblance to Charlie Brown! And as his mother, to me, he is the most handsome of men! We all have bad days, and when you see someone less than desirable having an ugly, grumpy day, just remember everyone has a mother who loves them and thinks they are the most perfect person. I still miss the honesty of my aunt and the laughs we shared. She loved this tortellini salad recipe. A recipe is just an outline, and you will notice you can “adjust” the dressing or the greens.

Maybe it is up to us to see everyone with a mother’s eye. Sometimes, we need to let go and just accept the beauty that sometimes only a mother can see and adjust our vision. We need to remember that we are never without a mother — we have someone mothering over us from on high. During this month of Mary, give unconditionally, as Jesus did by sharing His mother with all of us. And, of course, give thanks for the “mothers” in our lives!


By Cathy Cooper
coordinator of dietary services for the Holy Cross Diocesan Center
Photography by Monica Organ


Tortellini salad

1 bag fresh spinach
1 bag shredded cabbage
1 12-ounce package cooked cheese tortellini
Ranch or blue cheese dressing
3 diced tomatoes
1 pound fried bacon

Layer all ingredients in order given on large pasta platter

Blend together
½ cup buttermilk
1 tsp crushed garlic
¼ tsp salt
½ tsp white vinegar
½ tsp Worcestershire
3 dashes hot sauce
1 cup mayonnaise
½ cup sour cream

Add to dressing
1 tsp dried dill
¼ cup parsley, chopped
1 tbsp chives, chopped

You may eliminate the herbs and add ¼ cup blue cheese for a blue cheese dressing.

I usually double the batch of dressing and save the rest for later.

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