For awhile in 2005, I carried around a white, cotton handkerchief that was worn soft from use after my father, Dabney, died suddenly and quietly at the age of 81. The handkerchiefs were a small connection back to him that I could hold up against my cheek and feel his presence once again.
It's a paltry replacement but it made the pain of losing him as a touchstone of advice and bad jokes a little easier to bear until time and the rhythm of life took over and carried me out into a new pattern.
That's the way it is when events upend our routines and snatch away the people who know everything about us and yet continue to come back for more. We need a little comforting from somewhere to ease the sharp ache until we can figure out a new way of doing things and the vacuum is filled, once again.
Sometimes, we need something on a grander scale, like in 2001 when my best friend, Gloria, died from breast cancer and I started running for miles at a time. The constant sound of my feet hitting the pavement and the mental efforts it took to get me out the door early in the morning before the southern summer heat took over pulled me out of myself just long enough to be able to honor Gloria while at the same time I was letting her go.
Fortunately, there's now an entire company that gets what it's like to have a chronic illness that stretches on over time or to lose someone and feel the space they once filled in so many little, meaningful ways. Spoonful of Comfort (www.SpoonfulofComfort.com) is dedicated to sending homemade chicken soup in large glass jars tied up with a bright yellow, polka dotted ribbon, nestled against oatmeal cookies, soft rolls and fuzzy socks.
It's all packaged by hand, no artificial ingredients in any of it and sent out across America as a way to honor the love and memory of a good mother.
It all began in 2007 when Marti Wymer, CEO of Spoonful of Comfort, found out her mother, Mona Bowes, who lived across the country, had lung cancer. Marti couldn't be there as much as she wanted to but she wanted to be able to share something that would give Mona comfort.
The mail-order market was flooded with cookies or flowers or jewelry but there was nothing that pulled out of someone the deep sigh that comes from knowing we're loved and someone is hoping for the best.
Six weeks later Mona Bowes passed away and Marti Wymer decided to change her life, honor her mother and help others.
"We started with local deliveries of my chicken soup to friends and family so we could test the market and they loved it and wanted to send our soup across the country. Then those people wanted to buy some for someone else and it organically just started to grow," said Marti.
Magazines and newspapers started to pick up the story from people who were talking about this homemade chicken soup that was wrapped with such care and no plastic until one day the Daily Candy blog ran an item and the orders started to "ding, ding, ding all day long. That was a crazy day," said Marti. Their orders went from 100 a month to 150 a day and have kept growing ever since.
A percentage of every sale also goes to cancer research in honor of Mona Bowes and as a fellow survivor myself, that's just one more good reason to give the soup a try.
Recently, the company grew so much Marti took on a partner, Scott Gustafson, as president and moved the entire operations and her husband, Steven, of 13 years and two kids to Utah.
I've already tried the soup and sent them to an ailing editor, who already told all of her friends, and I shared mine with some of my friends who already wanted to order some for people they know across country. Everyone has the same reaction. It's as if we've all been starving for something that is made with such care, tastes so good and comes in a pretty package that we can send out to comfort others.
For all of my readers who'd like to find out what we're all crowing about, Spoonful of Comfort wants to offer free oatmeal cookies with every purchase of the chicken soup through the month of May. Just remember to put carrcookie in the coupon code box before you check out.
I may just have to go get some more, too. Tweet me @MarthaRandolph and let me know what you thought of the soup and enjoy the free cookies. Emails can be sent to me at Martha@caglecartoons.com.
- Martha Randolph Carr's columns are distributed exclusively by Cagle Cartoons, Inc.