Eternal Memory

gl P1030780 koliva 3-24-16With my family and friends I have memorialized my husband in many ways in the last couple of weeks. The evening of the day that we decorated the grave, we had a short memorial service for him at my church. Ivy stood right by me holding her candle straight and steady for the whole fifteen minutes. After we sang and prayed together, we ate koliva together in his honor. “Eternal Memory!”

I’m not going to post a picture here every time I make one of these bowls of ceremonial boiled wheat, but this first anniversary was the Big One for me, so it bears telling about. I wanted to use blue Jordan almonds to decorate, but they were not to be found in the usual candy stores, so I put M&M’s instead, along with white almonds. Maggie helped me with the tricky job of placing candies on a bed of powdered sugar.

On the following weekend the agape meal I had committed to was accomplished. When I mentioned it two weeks ago, in the same post I put a photo of a big pot of soup I’d made, which I think was confusing; that soup had nothing to do with the agape meal that was to come. My menu for the meal that needed to feed about 100 people was: (What I call) Greek Beans, Cottage Fried Potatoes, Cabbage Salad with Tarragon and Toasted Almonds, and vegan Chocolate Carrot Cake.gl P1030804

I used about 15# of cabbage and 50# of potatoes, 20# of Great Northern beans, and about 10# of carrots for the cake. Six dedicated and necessary friends from church helped me both Saturday and Sunday, out of love for me and for my late husband. It was the first time I’d ever organized something like this, and the project filled my mind for many hours over the preceding weeks, as I scribbled my recipes and math problems and gl P1030815 Greek Beansshopping lists on a sheaf of papers I tried to keep all together.

Several things didn’t work exactly as planned – when dealing with large quantities not only the quantities have to be adjusted, but cooking times and methods. Now I know!

Too many finely grated carrots were accidentally put into the cake batter, we couldn’t tell exactly to what degree, so I just gave the four sheet pans longer baking time and we had delectable brownies instead of cake.

In the morning before we started cooking I was jittery, and glad the day was finally here when I could start this last big effort. As I expected, once I got to the church kitchen and my crew began to execute my plans, the whole event was a lot of fun. The food got rave reviews, too!gl P1030833crpAnd now the big One Year milestone has passed. These various commemorative events and tasks have helped me so much to focus my grief and prayers in a community-oriented and practical way. Can you believe that I had joy as well as grief? I didn’t have a minute to spare for brooding, but at the same time I was not distracted from the anniversary, but rather able to keep it in the most satisfying way — I’m very thankful.

14 thoughts on “Eternal Memory

  1. What a job you undertook. Everyone must have loved the feast. Am going to look up koliva now; yours looks spectacular.

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  2. Ah, the circle of life and death. Beautiful. You made this first year after your husband’s death with grace and love, blessings on you.

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  3. I love seeing your koliva every time, you do it so beautifully, I wish you *would* post them every time, but you know best. I am so glad that the memorial meal went well! Thank God!!! We are so blessed to be in the Church!

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  4. Thinking of you and your husband. Your sweet presence in our home seems as if it were just yesterday. God bless you, Gretchen.

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  5. Thanks for sharing this inspiring account of commemorating your husband’s life after a year of learning to live without him. This kind of celebration was never a part of my experience until we moved to Guam, where one year anniversaries were cause for a novena of rosaries – accompanied by nine nights of feasting with family and friends. One year baby birthday parties were big celebrations also. Both parties seem to mark a birthday of sorts for someone who has entered a new stage of life.

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  6. I can well understand you feeling joy as well as grief. It is a celebration of who your husband was, but of course, sad because he is no longer here. I send you love and blessings.
    The agape sounds wonderful, you did something amazing for people. I went to my first Agape meal this Maundy Thursday – I’ve never experienced it before and I really loved it!xx

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