DEAR ABBY: My mother-in-law, Edye, was a wonderful cook and an accomplished hostess. Friends and family enjoyed being a part of her events, not only because of the food but also because she made everyone feel so welcome.
Before my husband and I were married, I met Edye for the first time at a dinner she hosted in my honor. Of course, I was nervous about meeting her and wanted to make a good impression. After the introductions, I followed her into the kitchen and offered to do what I could to help.
She smiled and said, "No thank you, dear. I like to do things my way," and then she pointed to a poem she had framed and hung on her wall. The title was, "Stay out of My Kitchen," and she told me it had come from your "Keepers" booklet.
Edye passed away two years ago, and the poem now hangs in my sister-in-law's kitchen. I think of my dear mother-in-law every time I see it. How can I get some copies of your "Keepers" booklet? I will be hosting a wedding shower for my niece and would like to use them as part of the gift bags I'm assembling for the luncheon. -- STILL MISSING EDYE IN SAN FRANCISCO
DEAR MISSING EDYE: Please accept my sympathy for the loss of your mother-in-law. From your description, she must have been a talented and special lady. I'm pleased Edye found my Keepers Booklet enjoyable, and I hope your guests will, too. It can be ordered by sending your name and mailing address, plus check or money order for $6 (U.S. funds), to: Dear Abby -- Keepers Booklet, P.O. Box 447, Mount Morris, IL 61054-0447. Shipping and handling are included in the price. You'll find it contains a collection of humorous and inspirational letters, poems and essays that were longtime favorites of my own dear mother -- which is why she included them in an inspiring, easy-to-read booklet for anyone who needs a "lift."
The poem your mother-in-law framed is brief, polite and succinct -- and here it is:
STAY OUT OF MY KITCHEN by Susan Sawyer
Please stay away from my kitchen
From my dishwashing, cooking and such;
You were kind to have offered to pitch in
But thanks, no, thank you so much!
Please don't think me ungracious
When I ask that you leave me alone;
For my kitchen's not any too spacious
And my routine is strictly my own.
Tell you what: You stay out of my kitchen
With its sodden, hot, lackluster lures --
When you're here, stay out of my kitchen
And I promise to stay out of yours!
SOMETHING TO THINK ABOUT: How far you go in life depends on your being tender with the young, compassionate with the aged, sympathetic with the striving, and tolerant of the weak and the strong -- because someday you will have been all of these. -- GEORGE WASHINGTON CARVER