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Millie's Meatballs

Salt & Pepper

Little bit parsley

Little bit olive oil

You got breadcrumbs?

Beef, the 80 and the 20

You fry the meatballs with oil. That’s all. Make it brown. That’s all.

Tomato Sauce (not gravy)

Salt and pepper

the canned tomatoes without the skin.

Little bit tomato paste, simple, make it easy.

Cook about an hour/ hour and a half.

Now listen, this is the important part. If you make enough, wrap them up and put it freezer. Don’t wait too long to eat them. But when you want meat sauce you take from the freezer. That’s all. That’s how you save the money. You put the meatballs right in the sauce from the freezer.

That’s all.

Millie is deaf. She was born deaf, and she reads lips. Millie is also getting to be forgetful, but you better believe that memory bounced back like a new rubber band, muscle memory. Muscle memory is a neurological process that allows you to remember certain motor skills and perform them without conscious effort. Skill retention from muscle memory can potentially last forever, barring any neurological or physical ailments.

Despite all the years that have passed since Millie was alone in her kitchen making meatballs, and all the things in life she has faced since she first learned how to make them, her hands still know how to make those meatballs, regardless of her cognitive or physical abilities. Reminiscing with forgetful aging adults gives them a sense of competence and confidence in using a skill they still have. Many aging adults find themselves in a position where things are always being done ‘for’ them. When a person shares something about their past and another person shows interest or enjoyment, it is a wonderful opportunity for that person to feel that they are the one who is giving something to another human being, rather than always being the one who is receiving or listening. Millie was thrilled to share her meatball recipe with me today. A small activity like that makes a big difference in her day.

We all possess memories, we all have our own unique life history. Recalling the past is a means of owning it and hence preserving ourselves. It is a here and now process which holds the teller and the told in relationship with each other.

Faith Gibson (1998)

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