His Mother Would Be Proud!

Dec 4, 2020 | 0 comments

Cowboy Nyel with his Mom, c. 1946

I never knew Nyel’s mom.  And, though Nyel doesn’t speak much about either of his parents, after thirty-five years with her son, I feel somewhat acquainted with Muriel Dalrymple Stevens.  From the time Nyel was six months old, she was a single mom.  She was a waitress.  She developed rheumatoid arthritis and, by the time Nyel was in high school, she could no longer work.  She raised Nyel to think for himself, to be independent and self-reliant.

From the get-go, I was impressed that in addition to all the expected “guy things,” Nyel ironed his own shirts, was handy with needle and thread, could repair almost anything whether it was made of wood or leather or china or fabric.  He learned cooking basics from her — mostly through observation — and then fine-tuned his skills to gourmet levels.

But besides those nitty-gritty necessities of life,  Nyel developed a number of character traits that I find totally admirable — and sometimes annoying.  For example, it is hard to engage him in an honest argument.  Or even a heated discussion.  I think that comes straight from his mom brooking no such impertinence.  He is endlessly patient — perhaps from years of waiting for his mom to get off work before he could… whatever.  Muriel was definitely a force to be reckoned with and so is her son.

Nyel’s Fruitcake

And then there are the fruitcake stories.  I’ve heard about “Mom’s fruitcake” for years.  That it was dark in color.  That it was wrapped in cheese cloth that had been soaked in Mogen David wine for several weeks before being served.  That it was delicious.  That, even though he tried eating other people’s fruitcake, none was like his mom’s.  And he lamented that, of all her recipes, that particular one was missing.

The Moment of Truth

Finally, this year, he decided to try to replicate that fruitcake.  I knew he was thinking about it when a bottle of Mogen David wine showed up with one of our grocery orders!  He talked with Charlie Watkins (of Double J and the Boys fame) who makes huge batches of fruitcake each year.  He pondered and stewed and finally dove in.  A few days ago was the Moment of Truth.  OMG!  I happen to be fairly neutral about fruitcake.  But this!!!  Fabulous!

Best of all, Nyel concluded after just a bite or two, that it is exactly as he remembers his mom’s fruitcake.  Wow!  I hope she knows, somehow, and takes pride in all she did to influence the man her little boy became.  Somehow, the story is all in that fruitcake!


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