COMFORT FOOD

In response to The Daily Post’s writing prompt: “Food for the Soul (and the Stomach).”

Food has always been a source of comfort for me, yes, even a problem.  When I was young I would imagine that my mother was in the kitchen making a pot roast with potatoes and carrots.  The smell would fill the house and sneak out the front door to tell us that it was time to eat.  By the time we were sitting at a nicely set kitchen table, a new aroma of cookies would waft by to let us know what was for desert.  My idea of family would be prayers before we ate, light conversation about our day over the meal, and a delicious sweet to top it all off.  I had watched enough TV shows to know that there were families that actually lived that scene every night.

The truth of my young years was that there wasn’t a mother with an apron grilling and baking for her beloved family or a father at the head of the table.  A homemade feast was reserved for holidays prepared by my grandmother, and a couple of times a week that would be cooked by my grandfather.  It would be his famous spaghetti with bacon and onion or steak and baked potatoes. Every other night we would be at a restaurant.  It was The Jolly Rogers on one night, The Hangman’s Tree on another, and Delmonico’s Pizza on Friday nights.  They would have their cocktails and order us a Shirley Temple.

I was married and had children when our dinners became what I had dreamed of all of those years ago, without the apron.  My favorite dinner to serve to my family of five was enchiladas, rice, beans and tortillas.  It warmed my heart and me feel like ‘home.’  This became my real comfort food.  We all sat at a table together and talked, sometimes yelled, had seconds when we wanted, then cleaned up the dishes and put away the left-overs.  It wasn’t just the food that gave me that feeling.  It was my children’s laughter, my husband’s playful ways in the kitchen, and the love that was portrayed by how we treated each other.  That is what fed my soul.

PLEASE DON’T ASK

In response to The Daily Post’s writing prompt: “Plead the Fifth.”

It has been seven years since my son, Alex, passed away and ten years since my husband was killed in a metro link derailment.  Would you believe that people still ask me how I am with trepidation in their voice?  If it was just, ‘How are things?’ ‘What’s up?’ or ‘Anything new?’ I would be fine and tell them I’m fine and go on my way.  But that quiet, almost inaudible, question,”So, how are you doing, Patty?”  It isn’t any easier today than it was ten years ago. I still don’t know what to say.  The truth is that I’m doing so  much better.  It has been a dark and hollow trek through that tunnel each day to come to this point where I am today.  Now, I have a purpose, a passion, and a renewed love for life that I never believed possible.  But, there is another truth.  I still miss my son everyday.  If I see a picture in the corner of my eye, my heart catches and the tears start falling, no matter how hard I try to hold them in.  My dreams are still filled with good times and bad with my husband and it isn’t unusual to wake up holding my pillow in a strangle-hold, whispering through my tears, “Don’t go, don’t go!”

There isn’t a kind and easy way to ever ask a grieving mother or wife how she is doing with her losses.  The fact is, there are things that will never change.  The deep hole that has been stabbed in my heart with an ice pick when I lost my son, will never, no never, go away.  And the devastation and hopelessness of having the love of my entire life ripped away in seconds because of an evil man who jammed his truck into the tracks, poured gasoline the inside and outside of his truck trying to get his wife’s attention, will not leave my heart or mind.  With him I lost my best friend, my lover, all of our future hopes and dreams.  We were supposed to be grandparents together, walk our children down the aisle, and enjoy our retired years together.

The one thing that I know that I know is that there is no time limit to grief and that question will never be an easy one to answer.  I plead the fifth.

TIME WITH GRANDPA

In response to The Daily Post’s writing prompt: “The Transporter.”

Sometimes it is difficult to think of how to answer our daily prompts.  But, this one came to my mind instantly like a flash.  It stimulated my mind, sense of smell, and soft, tender spot in my heart.  As a little girl, amidst the craziness that was my life, there was one thing that brought me comfort and pure joy.  My grandfather would pick me up to set me on his lap while he was working at his desk.  There were so many things atop his workspace that looked exciting to me.  I suppose he was probably writing out bills, or some such thing.  To me he was making life or death decisions, and finding ways to keep our world safe.  His personal effects were not strewn about as you might see mine in today’s world.  No.  It was orderly with papers lined up in a row, envelopes in their place, and his fine pens placed neatly in the glass-topped pen box.  But the most memorable to me was a shiny gold ash tray that sat at the left front corner of his desk.  A cigar cutter with a snuffer right beside at the ready for the time that all the writing would be finished, papers and pens put away.   That was my favorite time.  Grandpa would take one of his cigars out of a wonderfully painted cigar box, use the cutters to snip the end clean off and put it to his mouth.  The matches were in the middle drawer to be used only for these special times.  I would watch the flame hit the newly cut cigar and it would begin to glow,  There would be some little ‘puff’ sounds, and then there it was.  The smoke would rise up in a cloudy stream and then as I would breathe in through my nose, that heavenly smell would float through my nostrils and penetrate my being.  It was the smell of safety, of someone who loved me, my relief from turmoil.  As he would begin talking to me, I never really listened much, I could melt on his chest and feel loved and secure.

That smell still brings me back to those precious moment with my grandfather.  Hmmmm.  I can smell it now!