Stand By Me

“Have a little kindness for your fellow man.”  I learned this directly from my father.  Yesterday was Father’s Day and my father William Howard Sanwald has been on my mind.  He died of early-onset Alzheimer’s in September of 1980 long before much was known about the disease or the treatment to keep it at bay.  He was only 53 years old.

When I was a small child, it was my father who bathed me.  I still remember how he went in between each toe to make sure it was dry.  It was a tenderness I will never forget.

I am grateful for the many mental pictures of our time together. As a child I remember  my parents had an evening cocktail hour.  I carry this tradition forward to this day.  My parents didn’t go out much, but when they did, I remember that it was a big deal.  My mother would get dressed up and my father always the gentleman’s gentleman, would light my mother’s cigarette, cupping his hand around the flame, my mother’s lipstick surrounding the filter of her cigarette as she exhaled.

When I turned sixteen, my parents took me to Chicago to celebrate my birthday.  My June celebration was delayed until it worked in my parents schedule, so it actually happened in January.  My mother didn’t like being outside, but my father and I walked several miles down Michigan Ave. in brutal winds, taking refuge in a small cafe to warm up before we headed back to the hotel.  In companionable silence, we sipped our coffee and hot chocolate.  It did not matter that I was frozen to the core.  What mattered was that I was doing this with my father beside me.

When I remember my father, I remember a man who was generous and kind.  My friends loved him.  He was quiet yet interested.  Serious, yet playful.  He had many sayings that he would share on a regular basis.  Such as, “Kindness is free.  And “Do not judge someone’s history that you have not lived.”  Or “Do not make a federal case out of a county courthouse issue.”

He was a man with depth and compassion.  He felt that education taught people to open their heart and minds to a deeper reality.  He loved classical music and was a grill master.  I begged to go with him on any errand.  He had a FM unit in his Volkswagen beetle and he was surprised that I enjoyed his FM stations.  He called the car wash the ‘the sea monster’ and we loved going through the tunnel together.

My most vivid memory was our last walk together.  Walking was soothing while my father was losing is cognitive abilities.  While we were walking we came across a field of cows.  They were close to the fence.  We stood there for several minutes, when he said, “I can see my soul in the eyes of this cow.”  This was a reflection of how my father saw life.  It was real, spontaneous and true.  He lives in my heart and I hope to honor his memory.  The men in my life that are dear friends, have personality traits similar to my father; somewhat reserved, the ability to laugh easily and are loving and kind to others.

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My father loved all the things that fed him.  Nature, people, food and drink.  This salad satisfies on many levels.  Wild rice, harvested in long-boats by hand, mushrooms growing from the spores of things ended, interesting textures and a vinaigrette that elevates the salad to perfection.

WILD RICE SALAD WITH LEMON VINAIGRETTE

INGREDIENTS:

  • 1 cup wild rice
  • 10 slices bacon, chopped, fried and drained on paper towels.
  • 1 cup celery, sliced thinly
  • 1 cup green onions, sliced thinly
  • 1 cup pecans, toasted and coarsely chopped
  • 2 cups white button mushrooms, sliced
  • 3/4 cup Italian parsley, chopped
  • 1/3 cup avocado oil
  • 1/3 cup lemon juice
  • Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste

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DIRECTIONS:

  1. In a heavy medium size pot, combine 1 cup wild rice with 4 cups salted water.  Bring to a boil and simmer for 40 minutes, or until soft and chewy.  Drain in colander and let cool.
  2. Meanwhile, fry up bacon until crisp and drain on paper towels.  Set aside.
  3. In a large bowl combine celery, green onions, pecans, mushrooms and parsley.  Add cooled rice.  Mix gently but thoroughly.
  4. In a pint Mason jar, combine avocado oil and lemon juice.  Add salt and pepper to taste.  Shake thoroughly.  Pour over salad, combining dressing with other ingredients.
  5. Arrange salad on a platter or bowl.  Sprinkle with fried bacon.  Serve.  (salad will keep in the refrigerator for up to 3 days)

Serves 4-6

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“When my father didn’t have my hand, he had my back.”   —Linda Pointdexter

 

 

 

 

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