A layer of turkey, a slice of chipotle Cheddar. Crisp lettuce. Two slabs of multigrain bread coated with honey-mustard. We're devoting this much space to a sandwich? Yes. Because here's the story behind it.
Quentin Moore, 21, seated at the counter of Judy Blaseg's sunny second-floor kitchen in southwest Minneapolis, lost his beloved mother, Ernestine Nash, to breast cancer one day before graduating from DeLaSalle High School in 2005.
Ernestine was 49. She didn't have much use for traditional medicine, or for worrying children unnecessarily, so the single mother kept her illness a secret from Quentin and his two younger siblings for a decade, until she no longer could.
Quentin's classmates gave him a standing ovation at graduation, but his mind was elsewhere: How do you carry on without your mother?
He moved into the dorms at the University of St. Thomas on a full scholarship. And a couch appeared. Then homemade caramels, gift cards, notebooks, food, posters, pillows and athletic shoes for 6-foot-4 Quentin's size 14 feet.
Eventually, one of the many faces behind the gifts appeared, too.
Judy Blaseg was a DeLaSalle mom of three who just wanted to help Quentin through his freshman year. Three years later, the two are inseparable. They golf together, edit his poetry, text-message, enjoy rap (his) and rock (hers), and have lunch on Ernestine's birthday every December.
Judy didn't always make Quentin's sandwiches. "Help yourself," she told him. Then she stopped saying that. Because when you lose your mother, you have no one to do that for you anymore.
Now, at least three times a week, Judy, 48, layers turkey, cheese, mustard and lettuce on multigrain bread and lovingly offers Quentin the universal maternal command: Eat.
Do you know a special duo?
"duets" IS AN OCCASIONAL FEATURE THAT CELEBRATES UNIQUE RELATIONSHIPS BETWEEN TWO PEOPLE. SEND IDEAS TO GROSENBLUM@STARTRIBUNE.COM OR CALL 612-673-7350. PLEASE PUT "DUETS" IN THE SUBJECT LINE.