Stirabout

Keep it Real Wednesday

May 25, 2022

Stirabout

Over the last few days, I have been reading articles about the Baby formula shortage and stories of women all over the country sharing breast milk for babies they might not ever meet.  It warmed my heart and I found myself googling “Is it possible to jump start breasts at age 62 to start producing milk?

I know that might seem a bit extreme but the helplessness we feel in thinking of a baby without food can be too much to think about.

We seem to have landed in very precarious times right now, but I am here to remind you, through Rosemary’s stories, that we are not without power.

If Rosemary was here today, she would be sharing one of her favorite stories about the great depression.

Rosemary grew up in the modest west end Irish Catholic section of Cleveland.  She was very poor, but she said she never really knew she was poor because everyone was. She has shared with many people that her childhood was one of the happiest times in her life.

Life was simple, people didn’t require much, and communities cared for one another.

Even through her family had little themselves, they always had something to share.  My Grandmother Marie O’Malley would make a pot of oatmeal (called “Stirabout” in her Irish home) to feed the family every morning.  Before they sat around their modest table in the kitchen to eat their stirabout, my grandmother would place 2 piping hot heaping bowls of stirabout on the porch for the “unfortunate” passing by.  After Rosemary and her parents ended their meal, Rosemary’s mother would retrieve the empty bowls from the porch.

I don’t know if Rosemary’s family ever met the recipients of the stirabout, but it didn’t seem to matter to them.  No gratitude was needed, and no introductions were necessary.  My grandmother saw a need and wanted to help.  She didn’t stockpile for themselves and forget the needs of others.  She chose to share from their own need, each and every day, without any fanfare.

Rosemary would also tell me stories of food items being rationed and in particular, what a special commodity butter was to have. Yet, if someone wanted to make a cake for a wedding, funeral or a special birthday, others would save their precious butter rations for the family who was honoring a special occasion. Everyone shared.

Up until the week before Rosemary passed away, she ate a bowl of stirabout for breakfast.  Every Single Day.  I would offer other breakfast items and she would appreciate the thought, but she LOVED her stirabout.

Maybe it reminded her of simpler times?  Maybe it brought her back to a humble start every morning?  Maybe it was just a breakfast preference?  I don’t really know but I can’t help but think she wanted to start each day with a memory of those simpler times.

I am not sure what is coming towards us.  None of us do.  But I do know that we all have the power within ourselves to help others.  It doesn’t take much to help, just a willing heart to care beyond our own four walls. I have had great examples through the powerful women in my family who went before me.  I hope I can continue to fill their shoes.

Back to the breast milk question for those of you wondering about my initial thought.

Well, it would take A LOT to jumpstart 62-year-old breasts to start producing milk again, but it is possible. I don’t know if that is truly the best way for me to help our world today but heck, I don’t want to leave any solutions off the table.

If I have learned one thing from the strong women before me, it is this.  The love behind one kind deed can cause a ripple across a community.

I have some big shoes to fill.

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