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yogurt induced memories


I am consistently amazed at how the five senses work to capture and retrieve memories. I just ate a lemon meringue Yoplait Whips! Yogurt and I was whisked back to my youth. When I was a tyke of two my mother went back to work after spending a good 15 years as a stay-at-home mom to my five siblings. My oldest sister was 15 and wanted to go to college back in the early 70s. My mom knew the only chance they had at affording it was for her to work full-time, hence the job at Hudson's, which is now known as Macy's.

She worked in the Credit Department crunching numbers for a long time, however, that department was eventually dissolved and she ended up on the sales floor. (Crazy, I still remember Hudson's main phone number 287-3232, Credit Department, please.)

Anyway, Hudson's was one of the main stores in the mall along with JC Penney's and Sears. So my sisters and I would occasionally drive over to the mall on the weekend or after school to see my mom on her break. There was a small restaurant in the mall; surprisingly I can't remember the name of it -- The Something House, I think. And my mom always ate lunch there and if we visited her we ate there together.

So this restaurant had a special cheesecake that was about three inches tall, whipped, light and airy with a graham cracker crust. It was cut in squares with a sprinkling of graham cracker crumbs on top. The cheesecake itself had a slight lemon flavor to it. I remember eating it, but not really loving it. My sisters Kim and Claire seemed to really love that cheesecake; I, on the other hand, subscribed to the "when in Rome" theory and just went through the motions.

This brings me to today. Whenever I eat a lemon meringue Yoplait Whips! Yogurt I am reminded of that very cheesecake. The yogurt definitely has a stronger lemon flavor, but the texture is extremely reminiscent of the cheesecake.

I can still see the booths we sat in that overlooked the adjacent dime store. My mom usually had about 20 minutes, as she was on her break, so she kept her Hudson's name tag pinned to her blouse. She always got a cup of coffee with two creams no matter what she ate with it.

It's funny, I never felt particularly close to my mother growing up. I still don't. She's an independent spirit. It's nothing personal, it's just who she is. And when I think of sitting in that booth with her it kind of sums up how I feel about her. She was always on her way somewhere. Her time was at a premium. She had a few minutes to spend before she was on her way.

She always left me wanting more, but now I realize she didn't have more to give. I got everything she had.


2007-04-04 at 2:14 p.m.

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