A retired outside salesman, my husband dismissed the weather forecast with a wrinkled nose, an Underwood trait. Like his dad, he’d driven in every road condition imaginable. Besides, Bravo’s chopped salad and spaghetti called his name.

What I hungered for was Angie’s smile and El’s laugh–to catch up on family. Food sealed the deal.

Over forty years have passed since we first met Angie and El in church. For two decades, once a month we partook in the sacrament of the Lord’s Supper together. Our three girls went to our church’s school with their three girls, ran cross-country, and skied Blue Mountain during winter break.

Indeed, we’ve shared many meals with Angie and El, including our firstborn’s funeral luncheon. The storms of life may defy such bonds, but cannot break them.

This thought assured me as we searched for Ann Arbor’s Briarwood Mall in almost zero visibility. Since I failed to enter Angie’s cell phone number in my phone, I dialed information for Bravo’s hostess. She promised to find Angie and El and tell them we were close by.

What joy to see their relieved faces awaiting us! The hostess did not relay our message, after all.

“Sorry, we ordered our salad,” Angie said as they finished their plate.

“Chopped?” I asked.

“What else?” El said.

The waitress took our orders and we dove into conversation.

“You know, we’ve never heard how you two met,” I said.

“Cody High School,” El replied, “10th grade Algebra class. I liked math and asked questions while Angie clowned around in the back of the class.”

Angie laughed at the contrast. “El was shy.”

“That’s what she likes to think,” El quipped.

In our younger years, El sometimes played guitar and led our church’s worship service. And I’ve never seen a Father of the Bride party like El. Three times.

The following sixty minutes at the table reminiscing family history seemed like six. Angie’s mother, Nunnie, is from a large Italian family in West Virginia’s coal country. Her parents migrated to Detroit in 1954, the year my family left Pike County’s coalfields in Kentucky for the Motor City.

“The Italians are fiercely loyal,” Angie said. “Mom and Dad moved to Michigan twice. Each time she cried to go back home. We finally settled in Detroit when I started school.”

I savored our similarities as I twirled Bolognese pasta on my spoon. My father, born in Thacker Hollow, West Virginia, loathed Italian food. They, in turn, shunned Dad’s Scot/Irish fried potatoes, pinto beans, and cornbread.

When Angie’s cell phone insisted, we hugged our friends good-bye. They returned home and discharged the Hospice nurse who cared for Nunnie. After our three-hour drive, I called Angie as requested. “We just walked in, safe and sound.”

“I feel badly you drove that distance for such a short visit,” she repeated.

“Please don’t. It’s what we wanted to do.”

You see, dear Reader, food is for remembrance–those who have gone before us, and those who remain.

Contact Iris at irisfarmletters@gmail.com