My mom’s been losing weight lately, and she and I have been a little worried about it. She saw the doctor the other day, and, thankfully, her bloodwork checked out
My mom’s been losing weight lately, and she and I have been a little worried about it. She saw the doctor the other day, and, thankfully, her bloodwork checked out fine.
“Are you eating enough?” the doctor asked.
A bowl of cereal for breakfast. Banana sandwich at lunch. Vegetable plate for dinner.
“I don’t think you’re getting enough protein,” he told her. Not enough calories.
My mom doesn’t cook as much as she used to, not like she did when I was growing up. She lives by herself now, and I can understand why she doesn’t want to make a meal for one.
After her doctor’s visit, I went to the grocery store and filled up a cart: rotisserie chicken, cottage cheese, cartons of eggs, some protein shakes. I thought it might help, might make things a little easier for her. It’s a strange role reversal; all my life, it was she who fed me.
Blueberry buckle before I could even say the word blueberry. Chocolate pudding cooked on the stove and spooned into a bowl, a film of plastic wrap pressed on top to keep a skin from forming. Pineapple upside-down cake studded with Maraschino cherries, the jar left open for me to pull a few out by the stems and eat them like candy.
For supper, she cooked country-style steak on Saturday nights; fried chicken on Sundays. We had meatloaf, eye-of-round roasts, salmon patties, creamed potatoes, white beans. Little Cornish game hens stuffed with wild rice. Rings of red Rome apples baked in the oven, stippled with butter, speckled with cinnamon.
On the evenings when she didn’t have time to cook, when the demands of running her crafts shop kept her working late, she still managed to put something hot on the table for me: Dinty Moore Beef Stew, Chef Boyardee ravioli, Kraft Macaroni & Cheese, Campbell’s Bean with Bacon Soup.
After my grandmother died, my mom took over the preparation of the entire Thanksgiving meal. Three days before the big day, she made the biscuits that would go in the dressing, using my grandmother’s dough bowl and, always, White Lily flour. On Thanksgiving Day, she made pans of dressing with those biscuits, plus a casserole dish of sweet potatoes and green beans with a streak of lean. And the turkey: 20 pounds, roasted all morning, the pan drippings poured out for her silken gravy. My dad and I, along with my aunts and uncles and cousins, ate and refilled our plates from what seemed to be an inexhaustible feast, and through the entire meal, there was my mom, pouring more iced tea, slicing more pie, and — I know this now — not even fixing her own plate until everyone else filled theirs first.
Maybe your mother was like this, too.
My mom and I eat together at least once a week now. I enjoy cooking for her — broiled fish or a roasted chicken or, if I’m feeling brave, a meatloaf, her recipe, my favorite childhood dish. I’m grateful for our meals together, but more important, for the conversations and the company. And for the chance to forge a new tradition at the table and to create memories for which I am — and will be — forever thankful.
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