I don’t know what I would do if my husband Mike died suddenly. It’s not an understatement that we do everything together. He’s my editor, my tech guru, my inspiration, my best friend. He even shoots and edits all my video. He’s the most kind-hearted, generous person I’ve ever met and every day, he gently pushes me to be a better person, too.
So, when I read that food writer Jennie Perillo’s husband died suddenly, it hit a nerve. Like Jennie, my father died too young, at age 50. To think of losing my husband so young, too, just would be so horrifically unfair. Often, when something like this happens, people say earnestly, “If there’s anything I can do…” but it’s hard to know what to ask for, and it’s even more difficult to know where to begin to help. First, Jennie simply asked for pie. Peanut butter, to be specific.
But what’s curious is that thousands of people made peanut butter pie. Todd and Diane, the founders of the WhiteOnRiceCouple, made a touching video. It was covered all over the media, including CNN. Then, on Monday, my friend Shauna James Ahearn sent a call to blogging community to start a campaign to raise money for Jennie and her two young daughters. She wrote:
As you can imagine, Jennie is overwhelmed not only by her grief, and the sudden responsibility of raising two children by herself, but she is also struggling with this financially. She just learned that she cannot collect widow’s benefits from Social Security because she earns too much money each year. The health insurance for her and her kids runs out in December and she just learned that the total she will have to pay will be more than her mortgage. It’s possible she’ll have to pay off the entire mortgage in one lump sum because the apartment was in his name alone.
And more than anything, Mikey wanted Jennie to continue living her dream of being a food writer. And he wanted to make sure his kids were taken care of well. That’s why he worked as hard as he did.
Which leads me to this week’s most intriguing link: Bloggers without Borders. As they write: “Bloggers have long been using their platforms for good, raising money and awareness for causes close to their hearts. They have rallied behind people who have lost their homes or their loved ones, reached out to people who are struggling with illness or experiencing a personal tragedy. Help can be as simple as sending flowers or a check, but bloggers support people in the community and beyond when they need it the most.”
When I read this, and then witnessed the unfolding support from the likes of my photography guru Penny de los Santos, I started to cry. I’d just spent an hour catching up the latest on the economy, the state of European Union, some dreadful crimes and what passes for politics these days. In a world where 90-year-old people get patted down as terrorist suspects in wheelchairs at airports, it thrills me to know there’s still plenty of real humanity left out there.
I’m throwing my apron into the auction. Following my friend Pam Anderson’s example, I’m offering a private cooking lesson to the highest bidder and up to five friends in the Seattle kitchen where I conducted the project for the new book. We’ll spend an afternoon cooking and then sit down to dinner at a linen-draped table and toast to the generosity of everyone who is taking part in this effort. The winner will also get signed first edition copies of The Sharper the Knife, the Less You Cry and The Kitchen Counter Cooking School. My own Mike will help teach the class.
Bidding starts at $350.
Leave your bid in the comments section. If you’d like to remain anonymous, you don’t have to enter your real name. Just make sure the email address is correct. (Mike and I are the only ones who will see your email address). That way, we can find you after the auction.
Auction will end on Monday, August 29, 2011 at exactly 11:59PM EST. I will contact you with details on how to complete your purchase.
[Or, if you’d like to make a donation to a #afundforjennie, you can do so directly through the Bloggers without Borders Paypal account.]