More than meat loves salt

I’ve had some inquiries about the way I close each blog post. I always close my posts with, “More than meat loves salt.” This phrase is sacred to my family and me, and for years it was very mysterious. Luckily, as she often does, Molly herself revealed the mystery to me a little over a year ago. Yes, I know, she was dead then. However, what I have learned in this process is that our loved ones communicate with us so much even when they aren’t here. We don’t always notice it, or believe it, but they do.

A cherished Garner tradition was our yearly trips to Seaside. No matter Dad’s work schedule, our extracurriculars, or other events going on– we always spent a week together at Seaside. We usually took friends, and often our dear friends would rent a nearby house. From frequent meals at Nicks and Piccolos (I still sometimes forget to call it Red Bar), to long bike rides, to a Modica Market bill that surpassed our house rental fee, those trips were pure bliss. I can’t even say that we only know that now, because even then, we knew that those weeks were a cherished respite from a chaotic life.

One of the things that Dad and Molly used to do on our trips (while I was no doubt lying in the sun slathering NO SPF on my body) was going to story time at Sun Dog Books. One year, Molly must have been about 4 or so, they returned from their story time giggling because they found a line in the book so hilarious. The line they heard was, “I love you more than meat loves salt.” {Sidebar: in true Garner fashion, the ADHD prone knuckleheads misheard the quote.} Molly was young, but had genetic high cholesterol. That child knew that she couldn’t eat a lot of meat, but man Dad loves salt! She found the humor and irony in the statement even then. From then on, it became the way Molly told us she loved us. (We have ALWAYS been a family ho never ends a phone call or leaves each other without telling each other we love them. I realize every day how lucky we are that our parents instilled this in us.)

We asked them what the book was called, but neither could remember. For years, I would ask librarians and teachers, but nobody knew what I was talking about. When the Google came about, I searched countless times, “more than meat loves salt.” NOTHING EVER CAME UP! I was disheartened because I thought Al Gore told me that the Internet was a magic space that could fulfill my every desire. I wanted to badly to get Molly and Dad a copy of the book.

Well, fast forward to 2014. The Internet had brought about this fascinating and addicting gift called Amazon. One day at school, I was having what call the “Mollygrubs.” I was missing my sister, and was a little angry at a friend who had been complaining to me about hers. I was sitting at my table in my classroom during planning, looking for a book I needed for an upcoming unit. I can’t remember exactly what I was searching for, but I know it was non-fiction. I have to give props to the secret Amazon elves who know when I am almost out of my Trish McEvoy Eye Serum that they put it on my home page when I log in, they almost always get stuff right! You know how when you are looking at an item on Amazon, they have items below that say, “Items related to this,” or “People who bought this also bought…?” Well, I was staring at the nonfiction book I needed for my 4th graders and I happened to glance down at the suggestions  Amazon made, and low and behold, I saw a red book cover titled The Way Meat Loves Salt. My heart dropped and I started to shake. The subtitle: A Cinderella Tale from the Jewish Tradition made it very clear that this was certainly not related to what I was searching for, but it was meant for me. During the first semester, I had done an entire unit on Cinderella versions with my kids. I had searched EVERY database, EVERY list, EVERY possible site for versions. I had a collection of about 30-40 versions of Cinderella. During those searches, this version NEVER came up. I guess Molly REALLY wanted me to know that she was still there.

I immediately ordered multiple copies, searched the internet for the real title and quote, and read the story. I’ll let you read it yourself, but I will give you a quick summary. (I’m working on summaries with one of my classes right now, so I should be good at this.) A father asked his daughters how much they loved him and they all gave very rich and ornate analogies to describe their love for him. The youngest girl passionately told her father, “I love you the way meat loves salt.” This angered the father and he banished her from the home. The fairy godmother character (holla, prophet Elijah) grants her a wish to go to a feast and meet a prince. When it comes time for the wedding, the daughter requested that no salt be put in any dish. Her father was a guest at the wedding, and complained about how terrible the food was without salt. The father hadn’t recognized his daughter until she basically said, “Dad, when I told you that I loved you the way meat loves salt, you disowned me. Don’t you see that salt makes everything better?”

Molly was the salt in our family. We were an okay piece of meat before she came into our lives. We could have been choked down with some water and ketchup. On November 25, 1991, we went from a bland piece of meat to the finest Christmas Dinner Prime Rib you could imagine. She seasoned our world with her innocence, her passion, her love, her talent, and her faith. She completed and complemented us, just the way salt seasons meat. How lucky were we to have had 18 years for her salt to cure us, make us better, make us kinder?

So now, that’s what MollyROCK has to do. We have to go add salt to the lives of families who are suffering. We have to show the love that is more than meat loves salt to young girls who feel unworthy of love because of choices they’ve made. We have to remind families that their one job as a family, is to love each other the way meat loves salt, and if they’ve forgotten, we’ll give them a shaker.

Keep MollyROCK in all you do. Salting your meat, salting your margaritas, be the salt for someone who needs it.

More than meat loves salt,

EGG (In case you’re wondering, EGG– my initials. Ironically enough, I hate eggs and really don’t like salt. But, if you like them both I hope you think of my Molly whenever you have them.)

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