My friendship with Mimi goes back to 1975, when we both worked on the children's ward at the local hospital.
Mimi is the kind of friend who always made pizza or pasta when she knew I was coming over. I'd often go after my evening shift and we'd sit and eat her delicious food and then flop on the sofa and talk.
I rarely cooked anything for Mimi - I think I might have made roast beef for her once. But she much preferred that I came to her house, and she did the cooking. "I have time", she'd say. And she loved her food as much as I did.
Mimi has suffered with bad health and physical injuries for most of her later years. The first loss of independence came with the loss of her driver's license. Too many little accidents, and then a failed driver's test because she could not drive on the highway. She never drove on the highway, but to pass the test she needed to be able to drive on the highway. And she couldn't.
After Mimi fell and broke her hip a couple of years ago, she suffered a lot of pain and could barely walk. A hip revision helped, but Mimi fell several times after her surgery and was too embarrassed to tell her doctor about it. She became so weak that her family, who lived in another town, had to come down and help out.
As luck would have it, the tenant renting the apartment in her son's house gave up his space, making room for Mimi to move in. The move happened quickly, while I was in Mexico, and when I tried calling her when I was here in the fall, the phone was disconnected. I thought I'd lost touch, but after several months Mimi called and left her new contact info.
Yesterday I called Mimi to see if today would be a good day for me to drive up to Toronto for a visit. Of course it was ok, she was delighted. "I'll make pasta", she said. I begged her not to do it - making pasta from scratch is a lot of work and I knew her back would give her a lot of pain. She said she wouldn't make the pasta from scratch, we'd eat the pasta from a store. And so I agreed, we'd eat pasta and I would bring the bread.
Mimi now needs a walker when she goes out, and even with that she still takes a tumble. The latest was last week when she drove one wheel of the walker off the curb. When I commented that maybe she didn't get hurt because of her winter clothing, she agreed - plus she'd been wearing 3 sweaters and two pairs of pants under her coat. Yup, she was well-padded, I'd say.
When I got to her home this afternoon, I hadn't even taken off my coat before Mimi was telling me to taste the meatballs to make sure they were good. Of course they were good. It was her way of stalling because there on the breadboard was a lump of pasta dough. Yup, she did it, she made homemade pasta.
So I tasted the meatballs and then we put the pasta dough through the machine. There is nothing like fresh pasta and Mimi's sauce and meatballs. I ate well, but Mimi would always like to see me eat more.
And then she apologized for not having dessert, and would I like coffee? With a stomach about to explode, I had to tell her that I couldn't possibly put anything more in my stomach. I reassured her that I was happy, the food was great. We headed over to the couch to digest our food and chat.
Eventually the heavy meal caused my eyes to droop. "Let's have a little nap", she said. So she laid down on the couch and tucked a blanket around her body. I stretched out on the end of the couch - it's like a lazy-boy. We both fell asleep, neither of us are sure how long we slept - maybe 30 minutes, maybe an hour.
After the nap it was time to go. But first I did the dishes, despite protests by Mimi. "I have the time", she said. But I wasn't going to give in - she had done so much for me and I wasn't about to leave her with a dirty kitchen. And while I was busy with that, Mimi was busy filling up pans with pasta and sauce. She would not hear any protest about keeping it for herself - I brought home enough for all of us for dinner the next day. And instructions to heat the bread in the oven - "it will be delicious!".
I feel so lucky to have Mimi as a friend. She never asks for anything other than my company. I can never give back to make it more 'even'. Mimi's friendship is unconditional. No matter how much time goes by between visits, we pick up our friendship just as if we were just there yesterday. And it's always over a meal that Mimi prepares for me. A meal made with love. Everyone should be so lucky to have a "Mimi" in their life.