Today, my 83-year-old mother fixed lunch for my youngest son, Cameron, and me. She served up fried salmon patties, fried turkey ham, mashed potatoes, macaroni and cheese, cream peas, carrots, and broccoli, with some frozen fresh peaches thrown in for dessert. Wonderful!
I wonder how many meals she has fixed for me and the various parts of our family through the years. Innumerable.
A year ago, she could not have fixed such a meal because her health was bad. She changed doctors and is now much more healthy. Still, I find myself wondering how many more such meals my mother will be able to cook. My wife, Trese, is a wonderful cook, but there is something about your mother’s cooking that anchors you to your past, that reminds you of when you were young and she was the center of your world.
Meal time as a child are indeed memorable. My earliest such memories are of sitting on Sears catalogs and phone books in order to be tall enough. I sat by Mom. Eventually I moved to the other side of the table opposite Mom and with my back to the wall. About then is when my sister and my dad began to argue a lot during dinner, often about the racial tensions; this was the 1960s. At some point I moved to the end of the table, opposite Dad.
So very, very many meals–all prepared by my mother. My sister and I would help wash dishes, but mother was a constant. What a gift she gave us! She is a woman who loves her children deeply, and it’s as if a bit of her love has been wrapped up into each of those countless meals. I pray we have injested into our lives as much of the love as we did of the food.
As we were leaving her house today, she slipped me a ten dollar bill. I protested. She responded, “You can only give while you live.” Beautiful. I am blessed.