Sunday, January 6, 2013

Unstuffed Shells and a Mother Lost

Mystery is always provoking me. Sometimes, it takes me a while to understand what is tugging on my sleeve.

Last week, I got the sudden urge to make stuffed shells for Friday night dinner. Around here, when Friday nights roll around, we all are usually so wiped from our work and school weeks, that Friday often finds us ordering pizza or Indian or eating leftovers. But this Friday night, I decided, we would have some homemade comfort food.

I found a great recipe on Pioneer Woman's website and then decided to triple the recipe. I did not know why I wanted to triple it. Maybe I'd freeze it for another Friday night? Maybe this would be our January tradition? I wasn't really sure, but felt compelled at the Stop n Shop Friday afternoon to buy three times of everything: the crushed tomatoes, the parsley, and the Italian sausage. The only thing I could not find were the jumbo shells.

So I ended up buying three boxes of the medium-sized Ronzoni shells and headed home. After I pulled into the driveway, I decided to check my Facebook account on my iPad. Here is the status update from Judy, one of my dearest friends. She had posted it three minutes earlier.

"Today my mom passed away after a long battle with dementia. My love to all my friends for their support along this difficult journey. Please pray for my mom and my family."

Like me, Judy grew up the youngest child in a large Catholic family headed by an Italian-American dad. In fact while we met as adults at a New Jersey parish, she and I grew up in neighboring towns in Westchester County, New York.

I knew when her family of six surviving children gathered to prepare for her mother's wake and funeral, they would need a lot of food. So when I called her, I felt sad her mother's earthly journey had ended. But I felt moved, deeply moved that Mystery had provoked me to buy far more food than my family could eat this weekend so that when the Pietrobono children gathered to talk, to mourn and to lift one another up on Saturday, no one would have to worry about what to eat and no one would mind if the shells were so small I could not stuff them.


  1. Allison, this is a beautiful sharing. The Lord definitely used you as His instrument to help provide comfort to your mourning friend and family. I am sure it was met with gratitude. Continued blessings.

  2. Wow! The Lord spoke loud and clear and you answered! Great story. Thanks for sharing

  3. The Lord works in mysterious ways sometimes.
    Please Send Judy our condolences.

  4. That was lovely. A wonderful way to pay tribute to a beloved mother of a large family.
    mary I.