Writer Talk

Shelley Margosian Stack

The Pleasure and Sadness of Pastina

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A few days ago, I opened my fridge and stood there, hoping that one of the gifted chefs on the Food Channel had left a few ready-made wonderful meals in there for me. I hadn’t been food shopping, and there was absolutely nothing appealing to eat for lunch.

Fourteen month-old Caroline, was having pastina. In desperation, so did I. I made it al dente, and dressed it with finely chopped flat leaf parsley, whipped butter and romano cheese. It pleased Caroline and it pleased me . . . until the sadness hit.

When I was little, and sick, home from school, in my bed or on the couch in front of the television, my mother made pastina for me. It was comfort food. It was my mother’s way of making me feel better. She would moisten it with chicken broth, dot it with butter, and heap mountains of parmesan on top. It soothed my throat. and warmed my stomach. I loved it and when my own girls were little, I did the same for them when they were sick, as she did for me.

My mother died three years ago, suddenly, with no warning. The three years since have been full of remembering, and many moments of sadness. The other day, at lunch, pastina brought another. I vividly missed the mother of my childhood, and being the recipient of a mother’s love for her child. Other loves in life are wonderful, but there is something that words cannot sufficiently describe about feeling a mother’s love.

For a few minutes, eating pastina, I felt it again.

Author: Shelley Margosian Stack

Shelley Stack lives with her family in New Jersey, where she works as a music teacher and writes in every spare moment. Those spare moments are a challenge to capture, but she is doing it. Her fiction has appeared in Short Story America Anthology (2011), Euphony Journal, Forge, The Dos Passos Review, and The MacGuffin. Hundred-Year Legacy of Courage included two of her essays celebrating the lives of Armenian genocide survivors. She is currently working on a Young Adult novel.

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