Potato soup is a comfort food for me though I'm not sure why. My mother never cooked it but I have very good memories associated with it.
When I was about 11 or 12 my mother went back to work full time as an elementary school teacher. This meant my brother and I were destined to become latchkey kids or..... Mom had to find someone to come in the afternoons to take care of us. I think the first year some lady was hired and she came until school let out in June. When September rolled around we went back to the lady's house and found that she had moved! Now in the little house was a stooped over elderly little lady named Mrs. Cummins. My mother explained that we were looking for the previous owner because she was our "baby sitter" but Mrs. Cummins didn't know where they lady had moved. Mother asked if Mrs. Cummins might be interested in the job and though I don't remember all the details, for years after Mrs. Cummins came to our house every day.
Of course for a 12 year old and a 9 year old, we weren't happy that we had a baby sitter, so Mrs. Cummins became our "housekeeper" though our family wasn't really affluent enough to have a housekeeper. In reality Mrs. Cummins became our "grandmother" though we always called her Mrs. Cummins. I had no grandparents living in California, we were without aunts and uncles and cousins and Mrs. Cummins served the purpose of looking after us and loving us. Every weekday she would come to our house in the early afternoon and maybe run the vacuum cleaner or do some ironing but she was basically around so that when we kids came home that someone would be in the house to welcome us and keep track of us. She often made hot buttered noodles for us (always too much black pepper!) or potato soup. That's where I'm leading up to today. Mrs. Cummins was a much better cook that my mother has ever been and through the years she fed us many wonderful afternoon snacks but potato soup stands out the clearest in my memory.
Our family moved to a different house, but Mrs. Cummins "moved" with us. She was an animal lover and even spent a month every summer living in our house and taking care of our 4 dogs and numerous cats while we went on vacation. She was a vital part of my childhood and I think my mother considered her a mother figure.
Mrs. Cummins working years with us ended when she slipped at our house one day and broke her hip. My father was the first to find her and call an ambulance and by the time Mrs. Cummins had recovered, she decided she was too old to be driving and puttering around our rather large house and besides my brother and I were no longer children. Probably I was already in high school when Mrs. Cummins stopped coming daily.
No matter. My mother considered Mrs. Cummins part of our family and since my grandparents were no longer living we visited Mrs. Cummins weekly and she often made us potato soup when she expected us. I think Mrs. Cummins passed on not long after I came to Japan but she was the "grandmother" that I still think of with a smile and with love.
Thank you Mrs. Cummins! I enjoyed yesterday's soup and memories of you stirring it up in our kitchen!