In the large family that I grew up in there was always a very strong connection between food and comfort. I realize that experts in the health field tell us repeatedly that this is a very dangerous relationship for those who develop a deep dependency on food, using it as a form of pain dulling self medication. I am sure that the experts have a valid point, and are doing a public service to admonish us against such behaviour. I am glad that they are there to counsel those for whom this is a real problem, and to help them learn other better coping mechanisms.
But I for one am not going to advise against taking gifts of food to those who are hurting. Sometimes the significance of that kind of gesture is the thing that makes the difference between a very dark day and a manageable one. If the person you are considering giving a food gift to is on a low-fat or low-calorie diet, or you want to avoid the chocolate for their kids’ sake and still provide a baked treat then consider Angel Food Cake. I can make a really great one from scratch with the bounty of fresh eggs from our hens, but if I am in a pinch then I know that the Duncan Hines mix gives a really good result in record-breaking time. With a container of cut-up fruit, or berries, (even the frozen ones) you can provide a treat that is usually acceptable even to dieters.
Yes, I know that flowers and books are other good options, but the warmth that a nicely prepared casserole or a gift of fresh baking provides to someone who is grieving or emotionally in pain, somehow seem a little more like a hug than a handshake, and I guess I’m just one of those hugging kind of people.
The following poems were actually written to five of the most important women in my life in response to their kindness towards me during a time of grieving.
To my Mom
My mother love me she always has,
At least as far as I know.
Did she ever have any second thoughts
About feeding me long ago?
About getting up at midnight,
When I was just a baby?
I don’t think I could say no for sure,
I guess I’ll just say maybe.
‘Cause it seems to me she’s been trying
To feed me ever since.
And my children too, and my husband.
She treats him like a prince—
Like the chicken dinner she brought us
It put a smile on my lips.
Some of it went into the fridge,
Some of it went to my hips.
If ever anyone’s saying
“Here comes dinner to the door.”
That’s my Mom and we dearly love her,
We couldn’t love her more.
To my sister Janice
Anything made by my sister’s hand
Would taste deliciously sweet
Though she may think that it’s boring or bland
To me it’s a gourmet treat.
She made me a cake on a very hard day.
“It’s only a mix.” she said,
But swallowed with tears
And a shared cup of tea,
It tasted like Heavenly bread.
Because she knows my heart so well
There was more love than sugar or spice,
So that even a crumb could have filled me up—
There was never a fullness so nice
To my sister Kathy
Meals that are made by my sister
Are warm and comforting things
Whether cabbage rolls or pork chops,
Or even chicken wings.
Whatever was on the menu
For Kathy and her spouse,
If anyone is hurting,
It goes to the sad one’s house.
Even if she and her husband
Eat cold cereal yet once more,
Because she left their dinner
At someone else’s door.
To my sister Marsha
You are there and always have been
For your sister tag-along.
You know me better than anyone;
We could finish each other’s song.
You bring me joy with all you do—
Each phone call, card, or cake—
Little do you realize,
The difference that you make.
You have made the difficult easier
In, oh, so many ways
You have been to me like sunshine
On some dark and stormy days.
To my sister Jeannie
Dearest sister who shares her heart
Whenever we are together,
And takes me out to her favourite haunts
For pastries as light as a feather,
And insists that she cannot possibly
Consume not a single bite
More than half of a mocha meringue:
Somehow it can’t be right
That you and I are sisters,
With your mandarin orange and tea,
Which you say has already filled you up
While you foist your pastries on me!
But then there’s the proof that we’re sisters
As we laugh together and cry
Over a plate of mocha meringues.
Don’t you know they’re supposed to stay dry?
I am so very blessed to have my amazing mother, and a beautiful daughter, as well as four sisters, and three sisters- in- law, nine nieces, and 5 great nieces.Two dozen very special women who mean so very much to me. Sadly two years ago I lost my husband’s Mum, Mina who was like another mother to me. Shortly after that we lost my husband’s sister Rosalie, the mother and grandmother of some of those incredible nieces of mine. She was like a sister to me too, and I miss her every day. She was probably the most talented home baker I ever knew and even when she was quite ill herself she never neglected to send food gifts to her neighbours when they were lonely,grieving or unwell.
To my sister Rosalie
Are you baking Angel Food cakes?
It wouldn’t surprise me a bit.
I’m sure there are feasts in Heaven
Where the meek and the lowly sit
Beside the strong and mighty,
And those with renown and fame.
And when you are slicing your cake up
You will portion it all the same,
Then you’ll pass the crystal cake plates,
To the diners one and all,
With the very best of your baking
In Heaven’s banquet hall.
Until I come to join you
Will you save a piece for me,
Of that shortbread you and Mom would make?
’Cause I’ve lost your recipe.