In Honor of Mother's Day April 29, 2014
From Sally Hilkene, owner/designer of Churchill in Fairway and www.shopatchurchill.com:
My mother was born in Fredonia, KS, the daughter of a one room schoolhouse teacher, and the town’s mortician. Their family car was a hearse. She was born in the family home which is now on the historic registry. All four children were valedictorians of their class, and each played a different musical instrument so the parents could be entertained with concerts on Sunday evenings. My mother pouted that her brother already claimed the saxophone, and she was stuck with the flute and violin.
Frances was her name, and she went by Frankie as a child as she was a tomboy. In high school she was the state debate champ. Not usually a good thing to have as a mother, but she was so patient and kind you wouldn’t know she could argue you under the table. By college she was Frances, a gorgeous, elegant woman who had auburn hair and looked like a mixture of Grace Kelly and Ann Margaret. Gary Cooper selected the homecoming queen from pictures and she was first runner up. She was a chemistry major and had an A average. Sweet as sugar and just as refined.
She was absolutely brilliant but always approachable with a small town shyness. She used her palate and chemistry knowledge to become a renowned self taught chef. She could take one bite of a dish, and have the recipe broken down to the trace elements of spice. She didn’t go a day without hose or make-up, and dressed in couture clothing.
At the same time, she braved the Canadian wilderness (sans hosiery) to go hunting with my father. She was the epitome of dichotomies. She dreamed of being a chemist for a cosmetics company but born in the time where a woman devoted her life to her husband, and rearing her children. Her husband and children were her best friends. She was a docent at the Nelson Gallery of Art giving weekly tours, performed in children’s theater productions, and volunteered for a multitude of charities with Meals on Wheels winning her heart. She loved taking meals to the elderly or housebound.
She raised her children with a calmness yet an expectation to always do your best, never quit, always give back, and never make excuses. Her five course Sunday dinners were a tradition, and no one missed them. My father was a surgeon who came home very late, but she always held the dinner, by candlelight and with the entire family. She made everything a party, even tornado warnings spent in the basement. She would haul a watermelon, candles, cards, and children in tow to the cellar. We had the best time and were never scared because she made it fun. We were always disappointed when the “all clear” sounded and we had to come back upstairs.