The Power of Love

Several years ago my dad was a math teacher at East High School in Salt Lake City, Utah. I never heard him say he was going to work, He said “I am going to school.” May dad was originally going to be a dentist, and would have been an excellent one. His love was teaching, and he was great at making a difference in a child’s life. He decided to change his major to high school mathematics, and never regretted this decision.

Every year on the first day of school he would write his full name up on the chalkboard in bold letters Melvin Cottam Fish, the kids thought that was hilarious. There was usually a long line of students trying to get into his class every semester because everyone knew they would learn math effectively, and he cared.

One year he had two opposing gang members in the same class, things were getting out of control, and he knew he needed to do something fast. One of the things he did was change his classroom around so his desk would face the door. As students entered his classroom each day, in his mind he would call each student by name and say “I love you.” My dad realized there was power in the words he spoke aloud, and in his mind.

At my dads funeral there were a few students that came to pay their final respects to their beloved math teacher. One of them told my mom that they didn’t remember all of their teachers names however they remember where they sat in their math class, and knew Mr. Fish loved them. What a great tribute to my father at his passing. I know he must have been smiling and sending us more love in that moment.

Nuts in the Graveyard

On the outskirts of town there was a big old pecan tree by the cemetery fence. One day two boys filled up a bucketful of nuts and sat down by the tree, out of sight and began dividing the nuts.

“One for you, one for me, One for you, one for me” said one boy.

Several were dropped and rolled down toward the fence. Another boy came riding along the road on his bicycle. As he passed, he thought he heard voices from inside the cemetery, and he slowed down to investigate. Sure enough, he heard “One for you, one for me. One for you, one for me.” He just knew what it was. “Oh, my,” he shuddered, “it’s Satan and the Lord dividing souls at the cemetery.”

He Jumped back on his bike and rode off. Just around the bend he met an old man with a cane, hobbling along. “Come here quick,” said the boy, “you won’t believe what I heard. “Satan and the Lord are down at the cemetery dividing up the souls.” The man said, “Beat it kid, can’t you it’s hard for me to walk?” When the boy insisted, though, the man hobbled to the cemetery.

Standing by the fence, they heard, One for you, one for me. One for you, one for me.” The old man whispered, “Boy, you’ve been telling the truth. Let’s see if we can see the devil himself.” Shaking with fear, they peered through the fence, yet we’re still unable to see anything. The. The old man and the boy gripped the wrought iron bars of the fence tighter and tighter as they tried to get a glimpse of Satan.

At last they heard, “One for you, one for me. And one last one for you. That’s all. Now let’s go get the nuts by the fence, and we’ll be done.”

Learned From the Best

One of the greatest gifts my mom gave me is my love of cooking. When I was six years old, she would have me pick a vegetable that we would eat for dinner, and show me how to prepare it. From simple things like adding butter to the broccoli to helping her peel potatoes.

When I got older, she taught me how to make biscuits from scratch and making cakes by following recipes and not using a cake mix, Cooking for a family of 12 was a great way for me to learn simple math and fraction skill. Many recipes had to be doubled or even tripled. I got good at making the conversions.

Later when I was in my teens, my mom would leave me instructions on how to prepare full meals from scratch, because she would not be home in time to prepare dinner. When I was 14 years old my mom taught me how to make pie crusts for Thanksgiving. She told me she would make the pie filling for every crust I made. The challenge was on. I made over 20 pie crusts that year, and she made the filling for all of them. We had so many pies we decided to invite family and friends the day before Thanksgiving to eat soup and pie. This tradition continues to this day.

I decided to make the fillings for pies after our first successful pie supper. My mom said she would be laying down if I needed her help. Everything was fine until the filling started overflowing over the pan, I couldn’t understand why this was happening. My mom quizzed me about the different ingredients I used for the filling. I goofed, I used baking soda instead of cornstarch for making the pudding thick. We both had a good laugh. It was a great learning moment for me.

When I was a senior in high school I got tired of eating oatmeal, and other hot cereals for breakfast. I decided to get my younger brothers and sisters to help me make breakfast. For the entire school year, we made gingerbread with applesauce, muffins, waffles, pancakes, and round biscuits. Until this time our family never ate round biscuits. My mom would roll out the dough on the pan, and cut them into squares. She is also great at cooking quickly, It was three cuts horizontally, then four cuts vertically, and they were in the oven cooking.

Mom thanks for the memories, and lots of patience teaching me how to cook. Your legendary homemade bread, and soups have inspired me on my cooking journey.