Ms. Cook's Table: A temple bell

A temple bell

March 11, 2014

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The temple bell stops
But we hear it echoing in the flowers
Basho

By all accounts, Frances Blount Molpus lived the typical life of a Southern lady. After meeting her husband, Richard, she picked up a lively pace, aiding him in the family business, raising 4 children and managing the endless tasks of church, school and community.

When her beloved Richard departed after 48 years, she sifted to personal intrigue for another 26 years scooping up golf, political campaigns, bridge (Goren Bridge Rule Book always at her bedside), travel, and friends.

Even so, as it turned out, all such details were a front for her true vocation. Finer points were revealed in February when at 97, Frances resolved, after a fall, to fly away during the month of love.

“Gather round” were her instructions to son, Dick, and daughters, Melanie, Nancy and Dorothy. For almost 2 hours, she dished “specific words” on how to live and die. Dick relayed her particulars during the eulogy:

“Your Daddy and I will be waiting on you all and be sweet to each other in the mean time.”

“Tell Billie Ruth: I'm RSVPing for my 100th birthday: I won't be there.”

“Thank Nancy Yates for the sugar body scrub and the pecans. “I'm so sorry; I'm not going to be able to get that thank you note to you.”

“I appreciate my great nephew, Scott Jones. I always meant to tell him what his cards meant to me.”

“To my book club and garden club: Read your rule book, now that I won't be there.”

Her brother, Dr. Henry Blount, age 88 and a Methodist minister, knew first hand of her methodology for eternal youth. “Sweet are the uses of adversity,” he said quoting Shakespeare. Frances made her mind up early, when as a child, she lost 90 percent of her hearing. Her father taught her to read lips and with that, she could not be deterred.

“Frances was never wishy-washy - she took a stand. She was unflappable, regal and lovable…a plum,” said her little brother, “I will miss her.”

Perhaps the most extraordinary testament to Frances were enumerated by the grief laden, adult grandchildren who stood in unison to testify that for them, her life kick-started the higher road. Indeed, she passed along indispensable tips.


“She was always present. And she prepared to be present.” - “She told me - live alone at some point in your life and if ever you are sad, call someone.” Nash Crews

“She taught me to play golf and to set boundaries.” - Rich Molpus

After the service, a reluctant exit witnessed by sniffles and fragile laughter echoed throughout the First Baptist Church of Philadelphia, Mississippi's sanctuary, the same site where Frances promised herself in 1955.

When I asked her daughter, Nancy, how she personalized advice from her remarkable mother, she quoted her favorite maternal advice: “Be kind for everyone is born different.”

The maker whittled Frances in love. She paid attention and ran on the good stuff.

Crab Cakes

Nancy Molpus Pace brags that her mother loved to cook and entertain. Her favorite dish for special friends and family was a crab cake recipe from an old Southern Living magazine. Frances was “obsessed” with ordering fresh crab meat from Philadelphia's century-old, world famous Williams Brothers General Store.

Ingredients:
  • 3 cups saltine crumbs, divided
  • 2 large eggs, lightly beaten
  • 3 tablespoons mayonnaise
  • 1 tablespoons prepared mustard
  • 2 teaspoons lemon juice
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground red pepper
  • 1/4 teaspoon hot sauce
  • 1 pound fresh lump crabmeat, drained
  • 2 tablespoons butter
  • 2 tablespoons vegetable oil
  • Lemon-Dill Mayonnaise
  • Red Bell Pepper Sauce
  • Garnishes: mixed salad greens, lemon slices, fresh parsley springs
  • Red Bell Pepper Sauce
  • 1 red bell pepper
  • 1/2 cup mayonnaise
  • 2 teaspoons sherry
  • 1/2 teaspoon garlic powder
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • 1/4 teaspoon hot sauce
  • Lemon-Dill Mayo
  • 1 cup mayonnaise
  • 2 teaspoon grated lemon juice
  • 1 teaspoon dried dill weed
  • 1 teaspoon garlic powder
  • Salt and Pepper to taste
  • 1/4 teaspoon hot sauce
Steps:
  1. Stir together 2 cups cracker crumbs and the next 9 ingredients.
  2. Fold in crabmeat.
  3. Shape into 8 (3-inch) patties; dredge in remaining 1 cup cracker crumbs.
  4. Melt butter in oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat. Add crab cakes; cook 4 minutes on each side or until golden.
  5. Lemon-Dill Mayo
  6. Stir together first 5 ingredients and hot sauce.
  7. Chill for 1 hour.
  8. Red Bell Pepper Sauce
  9. Place bell pepper on a foil lined baking sheet.
  10. Bake at 450 degrees for 15 minutes, turning once.
  11. Place pepper in a heavy-duty zip-top plastic bag; let stand 10 minutes to loosen skin.
  12. Peel pepper; discard seeds.
  13. Process pepper and 1/4 cup mayonnaise in a food processor until smooth.
  14. Stir mayonnaise, sherry and remaining ingredients together.
  15. Chill for 1 hour.

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    Delk - March 19, 2014

    Well written, Roben. Thanks.

    Nancy Molpus Pace - March 14, 2014

    Roben, your gift of words and the spirit in which they are written always amaze me. You have so beautifully captured Mother and we are all so grateful for your thoughtfulness. I love you sweet friend, Nancy

    sally molpus - March 12, 2014

    Roben,
    Thank you for being with us for Frances's service. You've honored her memory and us with your dear, dear tribute. So wonderful to see you again!

    - March 12, 2014

    I forwarded to all the casa t girls.
    and printed one to keep ( papercopies are istill imp these days to me :}don't forget to send letter! well done and thank you , lissa

    Ginger - March 11, 2014

    Roben,
    You have captured "ms frances".
    What a wonderful tribute for a special lady.
    love, ginger


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