(by Joy Montgomery)
At the beginning of 2020, I found out I was pregnant. My husband and I were thrilled to be adding a third addition to our family, but the year turned out completely different than we envisioned—in a word: lockdown. A pandemic and a pregnancy do not mix well, and I felt awful, both physically and emotionally. That’s when my mother came to the rescue. Even though she lives a long distance away, she came over frequently to check on us; she lent a helping hand in so many ways, making the time together special and nourishing us with her home-cooked meals, like her Tortellini Salad that was passed down from my Grandma Sue. It always makes me feel nostalgic and comforted to eat any of my grandmother’s recipes.
Things took an unexpected turn later on in the year. At a routine checkup for the baby and me, my doctor saw something wrong with my heart and immediately sent me to the ER. I was distraught and called my mother, who dropped everything she was doing and came to the hospital. Seeing the medical team frantically running in and out of my room was terrifying, but my mother was there to hold my hand and assure me that everything would be all right. Even though I am in my 30s, I felt like a child again.
The doctors informed me that I would not be leaving the hospital for the remainder of my pregnancy because of my heart condition. What made matters worse was that I was also allowed no visitors: pandemic precautions. I cried all night because of the abrupt leave from my children and the uncertainty of my future child—not to mention my own future: Was I not going to live long enough to see my children grow up?
My mother was my rock. She took my children home with her, let me FaceTime with them every day, sent me care packages of books and food, and reassured me that we would get through this dark period. The only thing that brought a smile to my face were the phone calls and video chats with my kids. After a few weeks, I delivered a healthy baby boy named Emilio Max, and surgery corrected my heart problem.
Without my mother’s help, there is no way I would have made it. I knew that she was calm and sensible during an emergency even though she has a busy life as a teacher, but I’d never had to rely on her so completely. She stayed grounded and strong for me during the hardest weeks of my life. I only hope to be half the mother she is to my own children. A mother’s job is never over, and she is the hardest working mother I know.
1 package frozen cheese tortellini
8 oz. cubed mozzarella
1 - 2 small tomatoes, chopped
1/4 c. green peppers, cut in small strips
1/4 c. black olives, sliced
4 - 5 green onions, sliced
1/2 c. Italian dressing
1/4 c. grated Parmesan
Cook tortellini according to package directions.
Drain and cool with ice cubes or cool water.
Transfer to mixing bowl.
Add mozzarella, tomatoes, green peppers, olives, and onions.
Pour dressing over mixture, tossing to coat.
Add Parmesan and toss lightly.
Refrigerate at least 15 minutes before serving.