Monday, June 12, 2017

Funerals, Friends, & Food

A friend of ours from church passed away recently. In the parking lot at the viewing, we bumped into acquaintances we hadn’t talked to for a month of Sundays. So with the kids whooping and hollering in the van, we took the time to catch up with each other. It was nice.

The next day, after the funeral, I heard other mourners say things to each other like, “It’s so good to see you again. It’s a shame it has to be under these circumstances. We shouldn’t wait for times like this to get together.”

I know I’ve heard sayings like that at about every funeral I’ve ever attended. And it’s true. We really should take more time to maintain our relationships with people we care about.

But each day only has 24 hours. For most of us, that amount of time is not nearly enough to eat, sleep, do the dishes, walk the dog, and keep up with everybody we’ve ever had the pleasure to meet. Unfortunately that means some friendships take a backseat to the normal demands of daily living.

Even those I call my best friends don’t get the attention they deserve. Birthdays go by without cards or phone calls. I can’t remember their children’s ages without doing some major mental calculations. I have no clue if a beloved pet dies or what kind of cars they drive. It’s been years since I’ve seen them.

That doesn’t mean that our treasured friends aren’t important. For one, what would a funeral be like without them? Most funerals are still, even with our faith and family close by to lean on, downright sad. Now add in the delight of chatting with a long-lost friend or your second cousin from across the country; such meetings are gifts from God that distract us from our sadness and remind us of the joys of this life.

When I was a girl, we sang the song, “Make new friends, but keep the old; one is silver and the other’s gold.” I loved that song then because I loved my friends. Now that I’m older, I love it for the simple truth it contains. Old or new, distant or near, neglected or well-maintained, friendships are precious indeed.


When we first moved here, there were several deaths in the congregation with dinners that followed the funeral. During that first year at those dinners, I learned to absolutely love one lady’s pizza potatoes. At the recent funeral, she made them again, and I wasn’t the only person drooling. I’m lucky enough to have the recipe to share with you, but I must warn you: I’m pretty convinced that while the recipe is good, nobody will ever make them quite as good as my friend does!

Pizza Potatoes

1 pkg. scalloped potatoes
1 (16 oz.) can whole tomatoes (Home-canned are even better!)
1 1/2 c. water
1/4 tsp. oregano leaves
1 (4 oz.) pkg. sliced pepperoni
1 (4 oz.) pkg. shredded mozzarella cheese

Heat oven to 400℉. Empty potato slices and package of seasoned sauce mix into ungreased 2 quart casserole. Heat tomatoes, water, and oregano to boiling. Stir into the  potatoes. Arrange pepperoni on top and sprinkle with cheese. Bake 30 to 35 minutes. Serves 4.

Variation: You can make Hamburger Pizza Potatoes-- substitute 1/2 pound ground beef, browned and drained, for pepperoni; stir into potato mixture. Or for Sausage Pizza Potatoes, substitute 1/2 pound pork sausage, browned and drained; stir into potato mixture.

*This column ran in The Hancock News on June 7, 2017.

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