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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

Your Life Does Have Meaning

November 12, 2007

Listened to the show Saturday and it was not bad. Couldn't be anything but sweet relief, really, after the week I had. It was just a lot of stuff — muffler problems and raccoons in the garbage again and how the kids used permanent markers to do up their faces for Halloween. But the big thing, of course, was Dolores' funeral on Tuesday. Everything went smoothly. The thing is, unbeknownst to anyone before the funeral (except for her son and the pastor), Dolores had left a message on her own Voicemail the morning of the day she'd passed away. The message she left was a list of her own positive qualities. Apparently it was an assignment for her Friday appointment with her therapist. (She's been going to grief counseling in light of her twin sister's passing in August.)

Well, somehow her son discovered the message while going through her things and his wife had the bright idea of playing it at Dolores' funeral, which they did. We all sat there listening with our eyes on Dolores' pink coffin and the giant life-sized image of her wearing an apron and giving a little wave as she poured coffee for King Olaf of Norway. Yes, it's true. She was on the Welcome Committee in church when the king came to the area for a visit nearly twenty years ago. As there were only seven committee members, they all underwent background checks and were instructed by people from the governor's office on how things would play out. The king did stop by the church and was served Gladys' Apple Pie Cake (of which he ate two pieces) and it was Dolores' job to pour and refill his coffee, which he proclaimed, "Very fine coffee, indeed" in Norwegian. It was her shining moment, and her son felt it would only be fitting to enlarge the photo the local newspaper took of Dolores and include it in her funeral service.

Anyway, the phone message began — and remember this is Dolores talking about herself — "Dolores, this is me. I'm calling to remind you because if I don't I'll forget. You must remember you are a good person who has purpose in life and even though it doesn't feel that way all the time, you are important and your life does have meaning. Never mind how the pickles didn't turn out. They're not easy and there's always next year. And how were you supposed to know it was dried onions and not coconut you sprinkled all over those rolls for the Harvest Breakfast? No one seemed to mind all that much. So you just hold on to yourself and keep on doing what you do. You're a hard worker and your intentions are good. You have a very nice smile and your hair is looking quite nice lately and since you got those new lifts for your shoes you've been smiling more and without you in the world things might not be drastically different but they'd be different somehow…"

The message went on and on. I don't recall the final half, though she did mention meatloaf and how she really needed to get a handrail installed over her bathtub. It was a strange event, that funeral. Strange to hear the voice of someone you love giving herself a pep talk at her own funeral. I do remember her final words on the tape: "When you think about it, life is not all that bad. You've just got to get a routine going, and when things pop up, take a deep breath, maybe two, and you'll be okay. That's all."

I don't know how Dolores would have felt about having her thoughts piped through the loudspeakers in the church sanctuary. I imagine she would have been somewhat hesitant about it all. But she's right, you know. About those deep breaths.

Goodbye, Dolores, Sweetie. You were a good neighbor, and a dear friend. I will miss you, especially in the autumn when the wind blows cold.

Apple Pie Cake

Cream 1/2 cup butter and 2 cups sugar.
Add 2 eggs and 1 t. vanilla. Beat.
Add 2 cups flour, 1 t. cinnamon, and 1/2 t. salt.
Mix 1 heaping t. soda and 4 T hot water.
Add and stir. Fold in 4 cups chopped apples
And 1/2 cup chopped walnuts. (Nuts are generally optional)

Pour into a lightly greased and floured 9x13 cake pan.
Bake at 350 degrees about 45 minutes.

Serve warm with Cool Whip or ice cream, or serve plain.

Mmm. Enjoy!

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