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Mrs. Sundberg's Recipe Collection - 12 tried-and-true--one for each month of the year--featuring an introduction and tips from Mrs. Sundberg herself

Silence Left Behind

April 29, 2005

Listened to the show Saturday and it was not bad. It's been cold lately so I shut the window above the sink and cranked up the heat. I made a batch of pea soup with thawed ham leftover from Easter and some fresh bread and we finished eating just as the show began. The kids asked if they could go work on their projects for school and Mr. Sundberg wasn't feeling well so he went upstairs to lie down.

It got quiet so I turned up the radio to hear Phil Cunningham and Aly Bain play a lovely song on the fiddle called "Johnny's Tune." Aly said it was for his brother who passed away last year. He didn't say much more, and I wondered, of course, how his brother died and why, and I got to feeling a bit sad.

The phone rang just then. It was a nurse from the home. See, I put in the last of my community service hours last week. I spent nearly eight hours at the nursing home on Wednesday, and — on my last day, wouldn't you know — I lost a friend. A dear friend. Her name was Beverly but everyone called her "Bev." She'd been there seven years but I'd known her only a few weeks. Amazing how you can just love someone right off the bat. She had a thing where she read aloud to anyone who would listen. She read from Reader's Digest and from her books on her shelf — Ring Lardner and Helen Steiner Rice and John Sandford and the Brownings. She read anything she could get her hands on. I was told she'd spent the better part of a summer reading James Herriot's All Things Bright and Beautiful to a bedridden man named Abner who rarely spoke a word. When I asked her about this, she said, "Well, now, I've always believed I was born to fill the silences."

Anyway, Bev was reading to me a variety of recipes for pea soup from her stack of church cookbooks when she just lay her head back on her pillow and let out one long sigh and that was that. The nurse who called during the show said she thought I might want to have Bev's cookbooks since Bev had no family and most of her things would be given away. Of course, I said.

It's hard for me to say Bev has "passed away." They're such gentle words and feel the way the back yard feels after an April rain. I'd rather say she's moved on, like a thunderstorm. I'm not much with a fiddle, but I've got a harmonica and I wrote a little song for Bev. I call it "You Go Girl and Keep On Goin'." I've been playing it a lot lately, filling up a little corner of the silence she's left behind.

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