When Mack and I moved back to Midlothian, Texas a few months ago, I was immediately flooded with memories. A drive past the town cemetery reminded me of Miss Peggie, my secretary for most of the years that I was school principal. Scooting into the library for story time with the babies made me think back to our excitement when the library was built, years ago, when we lived here the first time. A stroll down Main Street made me smile with memories of taking the boys to tap and ballet class at Stage Door School of Dance (which is still there) and dinner at Dee Tee’s (which is not).
We moved here for the first time 33 years ago, when Jack was just a baby. We moved back a few months ago because Jack decided that he wanted his own babies to have that same experience. He and Stephanie bought a great big house, just right for their four boys and Mack and I found one 5 doors down. That makes me pretty happy on several levels.
I had another shot of nostalgia last week, when I stopped in for lunch at The Dove’s Nest in the next town over, Waxahachie. which is a quaint berg filled with Victorian homes, beautiful antique shops, and cute restaurants. The cutest of those restaurants, in my mind, is The Dove’s Nest. The Dove’s Nest is situated just off the town square. The store part is full of great gifts: candles and books, dishes and unique clothing. I could spend all day just browsing.
Last week, though, I didn’t have time to browse for long. I had an appointment in town, but wanted to revisit the restaurant which held such fond memories for me. I was not disappointed. Years ago, when our small group of school principals had a rare lunch out, we would often go to the Dove’s Nest. Anytime something special and “girlie” was happening, we would order a delicious salad plate in a take-out box from the Dove’s Nest. So, that’s what I ordered (the salad plate, not the take out :)) It was delicious!
As I enjoyed my lunch, more memories came flooding back (I’m doing that a lot lately). I remembered something that happened over 25 years ago, in a different time and in a different restaurant (Luby’s Cafeteria, to be exact). Mack was out of town (as he frequently was in those days) and I had worked all day as a school principal and just didn’t have the energy to cook. But, we needed vegetables. Luby’s was the spot. I loved it, but the boys were less than enthusiastic. The only thing that made it ok (other than the fact that, as the mother…I was in charge!) was the promise of the gigantic strawberry shortcake if they finished their meal.
At the time, the guys were about 5, 7 and 8 years old. They were always fun and interesting kids and Mack and I were intent on having dinner and dinner conversation with them (not always at home, I will admit). Anyhow, we were at the table, trays loaded with Luby’s offerings (your eyes are always bigger than your stomach at a cafeteria), and the boys and I were engaged in some kind of fun discussion. We were laughing and talking and really just enjoying ourselves. I noticed a beautiful older woman (what I considered “older” back then is about my age now…bummer) and what turned out to be her daughter, watching us from the next table.
When they got up to leave, she came over to our table to tell me how much she had loved watching and listening to the boys and me as we enjoyed each other’s company during dinner. She complimented their manners and enthusiasm, and told me what a good mother I must be! Well, of course, she became my BFF at that moment. She introduced herself as Marilyn Goss. Interestingly (though I don’t believe that anything is happenstance… the Good Lord has it all planned), I had just purchased one of her paintings, Pledge of Allegiance America School to hang in my office. I was star-struck!
Her acknowledgement of my devotion to my kids and the importance of family dinner conversations has come back to my memory many times through the years. The way that she made me feel has encouraged me to tell moms things that I admire when I am out and about and notice a particularly moving parent-child interaction. The cherry on top of that story is that, a couple of years after that Luby’s encounter, the PTA president of our school invited Marilyn Goss to speak at a meeting. Upon being introduced to her that night as the principal of the school, Marilyn said, “I know you…I met you at Luby’s!” Then, she told the story of our meeting to the PTA audience.
Marilyn’s story is one of a beautiful spiritual journey. Her daughter has written a wonderful article about her, detailing some of that journey. As a person who loves and believes in “signs from heaven,” I am particularly intrigued with the story of Marilyn asking for a sign concerning her career. As she taught school one afternoon, a white dove flew into her classroom. She took that as a sign to concentrate on her art as a career, and always painted a small white dove on each of her paintings.
For some reason, I woke up thinking about that today. I have decided to honor that memory by making my own version of the Dove’s Nest delicious salad plate for Mack. Though he wouldn’t admit it in a room full of guys, he really likes a salad combo. That will be perfect for a hot August night in Texas. And, I think I’ll top it off with a Dove’s Nest-inspired buttermilk pie.
I love this quote from Marilyn:
“The Spirit of the Lord is in your work and He has brought you here.”
Here’s how I made our chicken salad. A little different from The Dove’s Nest recipe, but utterly delicious!
2 chicken breasts, poached in chicken broth and aromatics
1/2 cup chopped sweet pickles
2 ribs celery, chopped
1 boiled egg, chopped
1/2 cup dried apricots, chopped
1/2 cup slivered almonds, toasted
1 cup mayonnaise
1 T. dijon mustard
1 t. brown sugar