Saturday I had some things to do. I was piddling around and let time get away from me. I needed to be somewhere by 10:00 am, and it was close to 9:00. My mother lives in the apartment upstairs from me, so I called and asked her if she wanted something to eat. Normally she likes something simple like coffee and toast, cottage cheese and peaches or a sausage patty between two pieces of bread. Nothing time consuming. Nothing I can’t handle. But today she wants scrambled eggs, grits, sausage patty and coffee.
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It's 9:30 by the time I get myself together. I can tell her I have somewhere to go, and ask what she wants to eat until I get back. But I don't. Full disclaimer: my mother is spoiled, and at 88, this is the way it’s going to be. Every day that I have with her is a blessing because many of my friends have lost one or both of their parents. So, even though being a caretaker has its challenges, I’m thankful that my mother is in fairly good health and in her right mind, and that I (along with her other children, grand children and great grands) are able to care for her.
In the grand scheme of things, these are the things that are important. I won't miss the meeting; I'll just be a little late. So, I take out what I need to make the breakfast that she wants, and I know that if I mess it up, she’s not going to eat it. See, in her day, my mother was an exceptional cook.
Never the huggy-huggy, kissy –kissy type mother, the way she showed love was through food. My mother made everything from scratch, and she made whatever our hearts desired. So, we were spoiled, too. My middle sister and I did not like lemon flavoring in cake, so she made two cakes—one with lemon and one with vanilla. I don’t think I’ve ever told my mother that I bargained pieces of seven-up pound cake in junior high to keep the bullies at bay. I kept one piece of the melt-in-your-mouth cake wrapped in waxed paper for myself, and the other one I doled out to keep the means girls off my ass.
My mother had four girls. Two of us cook; two of us don’t. I am one of the latter, too. And even though I don’t share my mother’s skill in the kitchen, I did pay attention when I would be in the kitchen while she was cooking. She always gave two pieces of advice: cook with love and take your time.
Well, time is not on my side this morning, but I’m going to make her a breakfast (prayerfully) to her liking. I take out everything I need: instant grits, butter, milk, eggs and sausage. I can work wonders with some instant grits. The key to good grits is consistency, and my mother is the Goldilocks of Grits—not too thick and not too thin. She wants them just right. Adding milk and butter makes them creamy—just like we had when I was a child. The only difference being my mother didn’t use instant grits.
I put a lid on the pot to keep the grits warm. I roll the sausage around in my hand and flatten it out and place it in the pan on medium heat. As the sausage cooks, I crack two eggs add some seasoning salt, pepper and a capful of milk. This makes the eggs fluffy like she likes them. The sausage is done. I put the coffee on. The grits have thickened a bit, so I add a tad bit more milk.
I spoon the perfectly scrambled eggs onto the plate, then the grits and the sausage. Everything looks good, if I have to say so myself, that is until I look at the coffee. It looks like light brown water. What did I do? I don't drink coffee, but I've made it before. I take my mother her plate and tell her I need to make some more coffee. I look at the clock. It's 9:50.
I pour the coffee out and start over-- twice! I'm getting frustrated. Then I figure out what I'm doing wrong. The coffee brews and when it's done, I pour it in the cup and add cream and sugar. When I walk into her room to take her, her coffee, her plate is empty. "Thank you so much. That was good." I smile to myself. I did as I was taught: I cooked with love and it turned out just fine. Yea, I’m late for my meeting, but I’m right on time for what matters most.