Friday, January 15, 2010

Big Day Out


I've been avoiding taking my father out of the house and citing the remaining ice and snow. I was indeed concerned about trying to balance he and I on icy patches around town. It wasn't entirely the truth. Taking my father around town worries me for selfish reasons as well and I loathe to admit that. I worry about the many possible embarrassments that can occur as well, both for him and me. Pretty callous, don't ya think?

Steeling myself to deny him again, I arrived downstairs this morning to find him fully dressed in clean clothes, hair nicely combed and freshly shaven(no cuts!). I found I couldn't say no. And so we went...

I've mentioned in previous posts that there is scarcely a greater thrill for Dad than going out to eat. We went to the Fireside and he got his two eggs over easy with bacon and hash browns. He devoured it all and of course, relished every bite. I've always been amazed that I've never had to rush the Heimlich maneuver on him the way he shovels that food away. He grew up during the Depression and knows what it's like to be blessed with good food. He's not about to let any of it get away. I watched him and wondered how I could have considering keeping him from this simple joy.

My mother provided me with the other emotional moment of the day. I've mentioned my sister Mona before and how she lost her struggle with her own mental illness. Mom handed me the last letter Mona had written them before she died five years ago. I didn't even know it existed. It was a bittersweet read as it detailed my sister's hope for the future while struggling with everyday life. The letter was written with the holidays in mind and featured a detailed description of a favorite holiday meal that our mother always made. Homemade mashed potatoes and gravy, roast chicken with noodles made from scratch, perfect green beans, oyster dressing and homemade honey-wheat bread. This was a true example of the power of food as a connector....that meal was lovingly made by our mother more than 25 years ago, wonderfully described by our sister through the haze of her failing mind twenty years later and tearfully read by me five years after my sister's passing. The letter completely transported me to the sights and smells of that dinner as I'm sure it did for my sister when she wrote about it.

The memory of that meal made me feel closer to them all.

2 comments:

Lisa Mandina said...

My dad always eats a ton of food, and he's done really fast. He says it's because when he was a kid, he had 3 brothers and a sister, and if you didn't get your food and eat it quick, there would be none for you.

Ronnie said...

Jeff and I took Ron and Doris to their favorite restaurant Steak and Shake today. Dad had a side by side vanilla and chocolate milk shake he jokingly said in honor of Martin Luther King Jr Day.

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