Tuesday, April 5, 2011

The Lesson I Learned From Blue Cheese

One of the Jewish teachings in Pirkei Avot is to make "Your house open wide and you should make the poor, members of your household."

Growing up, my parents always led and taught by example. They exemplified this particular value by allowing a cousin to stay with us.  Our cousin was probably in his late 30's, unemployed and really down and out.  They invited him into our home. We ate meals together, watched Jeopardy (he was just as smart as the rest of us!) and tried to help him get back on his feet. 

During his stay, I remember how much he loved to eat everything with blue cheese. I did not care for the taste or the smell.  Truth be told - I thought it was the most disgusting thing I ever smelled in my entire life. The smell travelled to every room of the house. I would run through the kitchen to get away from where it smelled the worst.  We never had it before he came to stay with us and we haven't had it since.  He stayed with us for a few weeks before taking his blue cheese and heading out to what we hoped would be a brighter future.

Today, whenever I smell blue cheese in someone's kitchen or grab a whiff of it in a restaurant, I am taken aback by the smell and then the memories come back to me. I wonder where my cousin wound up when he left that day. (I don't know where he is now).  I think of how my parents put themselves in his shoes and decided to lend a helping hand and a caring heart.  I remember how they drove him into the city to job interviews. They gave him some money, provided him with shelter and food and always included him in our family activities.

The lessons that I learned from my parents' example and kindness is something I will always have with me. The pungent smell of blue cheese makes me think of my cousin, my parents, my values and I am reminded to pay it forward.  In this way, I honor my parents. I teach my children. I am my true self.

Remembe(red) is a memoir meme. This week’s prompt: think of a sound or a smell the reminds you of something from your past and write a post about that memory. Don’t forget to incorporate the sound/smell of your choosing! Constructive comments/suggestions encouraged.


  1. This touched close to home because of some family issues at the moment. I enjoyed the way you tied the smell of the cheese not just to your uncle, but to the acts of kindness that brought him into your life!

  2. Simply beautiful. I can relate in this story because we too took in my cousin who unfortunately got caught up in drugs. He was kicked out of his home because of stealing and had no where else to go. He only stayed with us briefly and we barely hear from him anymore.
    Sad really.

  3. First let me say - I love blue cheese, especially really good blue cheese. Your parents sound like wonderful people. It is a service you do them by paying it forward. Lovely post.

  4. The sense of smell is so powerful. And you chose a particularly powerful odour. I like how you were able to infuse this particular prompt with Yiddishkeit. Kol HaKavod, my friend.

  5. what an edifying post, thank you for sharing apart of your story!

  6. Hey, what's wrong with Blue Cheese? Girl, you need to embrace it's robustness! LOL I loved this post. Especially when you write about how you try "running" away from its smell. Oh, do yourself a favor...seriously sit down and start typing out a book. Don't think about it...just do it! Take it from me... it's worth it. xxoo Toodles! P.S. thanks for stopping by and commenting on my site. Made my day :)

  7. Thank you all for your posts. I'm truly inspired by all of you to keep blogging although I don't think I'll ever be a fan of blue cheese!

  8. I am a big fan of blue cheese...my kids call it "stinky cheese"...and it is!

    I loved how you tied values and admiration for your parents into this post!

    Well done!


Comments are always welcome and encouraged. If you like my blog, please sign up to follow it for future posts. Thanks for reading!