She made soup so good its smell would waft through the screen door and carry you into the kitchen almost involuntarily. Everyday, walking home from school, I'd anticipate what she was making for dinner that night. From the front porch you'd smell it: homemade biscuits, soup, chili, beef stew, sweet potatoes, peach cobbler... Heavens, she could cook.

We would each grab a piece of fruit to tide us over until dinnertime. We would sit at the table and she'd ask me and my brother and sisters about our days at school. She'd follow up on stories we'd told earlier that week. I remember sitting at the table with her after the other kids had cleared away, as she was cutting up carrots or onions, stirring and measuring. I would watch and wonder how she kept track of all of it in her mind. She often cooked in a traditional Southern way, without a cookbook in sight. A dash there, a pinch here....oh, it always turned out.

We'd watch Magnum PI, then M*A*S*H, then the news would come on and she'd yell to the others that dinner was ready and we'd set the table together. I loved talking to her while she cooked, pestering her every 2 minutes, "Can I help, Mama? Can I get something?" She'd make up something for me to do for her just so I'd hush.

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