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My Magical Mom

Linda Witty Follis


Linda Witty Follis and her son Brent

By Brent Follis
Christmas, 2006

Some of my fondest childhood memories involve sampling some of my Mom’s Mid-West Masterpieces. If you looked at a childhood picture of me, you would see the aftermath of second helpings. I was always extremely excited and impatient when dinnertime came around! As a child, I can remember reaching into the skillet with a spoon to get an early sample of her “Spanish Rice”, and burning my mouth severely.

That’s how much I loved that dish! I just couldn’t wait for that dinnertime call. I will never forget that sound: “Boys, Let’s eat!” I will forever associate my mother’s dinnertime call with the most wonderful sights, sounds, and smells imaginable. No matter how many classy, worldly, or eccentric restaurants I patronize throughout my life, nothing will ever compare to that feeling; that feeling I have when I know my Mother is in the next room pouring her heart, soul, and two tablespoons of honey into my next meal.

I asked my Mom how she has evolved to be the amazing cook she is today. She told me how years of preparing her family dishes have helped her find her own unique, yet traditional style of cooking.  Her answer reflects not only her cooking, but her generosity and her concern for people.  That is the music that sings in my mother's cooking. Here is her answer:


"I really would have no plausible excuse to fail as a cook.  I was taught at the hands of the best.  My grandmothers Lauretta Witty Hatcher and Lois Brown were both wonderful cooks, and my dear mother, Norma Witty was a cook among cooks.  She had such a good heart and had a way of touching others' lives with her special gifts of delicious food just when they needed it the most. 

My most vivid memory of one such occasion was when her much anticipated batch of homemade applesauce and bread were finally ready to be devoured when she learned that a very poor family with hungry children were stranded near our home when their dilapidated car broke down.  My brother and sister were salivating as they anxiously awaited their first taste of this annual treat, only to witness my mother whisk away every bite to feed this family in need.  We never sat down at a family dinner or holiday meal without first being deployed to various homes of widows and widowers who needed a nourishing meal and to know that someone cared about them.   Because I have never known any other way, it has been a way of life rather than a conscious decision to cook for my family and share our food with others as my mother did before me.

Perhaps the most humorous story behind my husband's favorite main entree dates back to the first time I made it for him as a new bride.  Although I was familiar with how to prepare my mother's delicious smothered steak, I had a lapse in memory as well as judgment the first time I made it.  I could not remember if I was to roll the chopped onions and fresh mushrooms in flour before I sauteed them in butter, so I did.  I ended up with a huge mess of glob that required repeated additions of significant quantities of liquid to dilute the gravy to a consistency thinner than paste.  I ultimately had to upsize bowls numerous times until I had filled an absolutely humongous bowl, the largest available, with gravy....for only two people!  When I set the gigantic bowl of gravy in front of my husband, he looked at the bowl and then at me, and said, "Linda, there were nine children in my family, and we never had a bowl of gravy that big!  Although we have now been married for thirty-two years, he continues to tell people that we still have bags of that original gravy that we use from the freezer! 

It is my sincere belief that no worldly treasures can surpass the legacy that a loving wife and mother leaves behind through her recipes that have become precious family heirlooms for multiple generations!


About Linda: As a registered nurse, Linda Witty Follis has devoted her career to nurturing women and children and their families as well as the staff who care for them. As an ASPO-certified Childbirth Educator she has been a birth center, nursery and pediatric nurse and is certified in-patient obstetrics. Her primary role has been that of Director of Women’s and Children’s Services. In the Midwest she oversaw the construction of a Women’s and Children’s Center and during her tenure as a nursing director in the Pacific Northwest, she had responsibility for a breast center as well as inpatient birthing, nursery, and pediatric services. She also served as project coordinator for the construction of a Women’s Health Pavilion which provides ambulatory services and community programs for women throughout the seasons of their lives. She is currently managing a breast center and a satellite breast imaging department in the Midwest. While she has dedicated much of her life to caring for families, she is most passionate about nurturing her own. She especially enjoys cooking intergenerational family favorite recipes for the three special men in her life…her husband and two sons.

About Brent: At age 12, Brent begged his parents for a set of drums, not knowing that he was making a life choice.  At Southern Illinois University, he met some serious musicians who opened up the world of music for him. "After hearing how the drums could be played with such finesse, power, and musicality," he states, "I wanted to do whatever it took to get to that level." For five years, he practiced, studied and played with some of the best musicians in the St. Louis area, then moved to Portland, Oregon where he was befriended by Israel Annoh, a master drummer from Ghana, West Africa. Two years later, carrying the inspiration of Annoh, he relocated to New York City. He currently leads his own Jazz trio, and works with several singer/songwriters in the area. In addition he is working as percussionist with Fredo Viola on an upcoming album to be produced by Because Music.  Clearly devoted to a musical path, Brent tells us that "After 26 years of trial and error, honing my skills, and deep thinking, I can finally say...music is my life. It's what I was born to do."



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