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  • It's funny the things you remember. I mean ... the things that stick in your mind.

    When my mom was dying of cancer I flew back to see her for Mother's Day. I planned a tea party and invited her friends. We used her variety of China tea cups and saucers, a lace table cloth, little finger foods. It was very nice.

    Four of her friends came. At the end, mom and I carried the dishes to the kitchen. I was glad mom was still in the kitchen when I walked in on her friends speaking in hushed tones with worried looks on their faces. I surmised they hadn't seen her recently. Seeing my mother's beautiful complexion, now as a sallow yellow from the cancer attacking her liver, must have shocked them. However they hadn't let on at the tea party.

    I guess I hadn't really faced it either, until I walked in on them. When you're in these circumstances, sometimes you just live in denial until others hold up that mirror of reality to your view. Then it sort of hits you in the gut...and you're stunned for a moment. Until you adjust to your new reality.
  • When I was growing up my mom had this great recipe for butterscotch rolls. They were soooo good! Better than cinnamon, even. She baked less when dad and she retired but she found a bakery in town that sold delicious butterscotch rolls. When I came into town we would get some and it would be a treat.

    I had bought some for the tea party and it was still a treat, even though dad was now gone and mom was dying.

    I flew back to California.

    As the days progressed, I convinced mom to let hospice come talk with her, and my younger brother drove there to be a support. We all took turns driving or flying there. At a certain point hospice called my brother and said someone needs to be there full time, so he went since he was retired. But one day my older brother called and said she would have to go in a home - she needs full time care and he couldn't handle it.

    I said, "no, I'd come."

    This time was very different. She was a shell of her former self. Still walking with assistance but talking was difficult. To cheer her up I went to the bakery and bought butterscotch rolls.

    She was sitting in a chair in the livingroom and I brought one in on a little plate with a napkin and handed it to her. She didn't take it. She didn't say a word but gave me a dirty look. Her eyes shot daggers at me. I pulled back and said, "sorry." I took it back to the kitchen.

    This was another gut punch, like when I heard her friend's shocked whispers at the tea party. This moment, more than any other, told me it was the end. Food offers us many pleasures but food is for the living and I had just offered my mother the ultimate insult.

    I understood her look now. No, I didn't blame her and I didn't blame myself. She knew I was there for her ... and I was - right up to the end.

    And, I still enjoy butterscotch rolls (which are hard to find), but I learned a lesson about food and life and death and denial and facing reality.

    Well actually, I don't know why I'm using the word denial as I don't like that word. I think the concept should be termed "awakenings." That is, we go along in our normal states of thinking and feeling and then we get these jolts - or awakenings. Sometimes it feels like a kick in the gut and other times it is more subtle. But each time it changes us and how we view the world and our reality. It deepens us.

    Anyway, today something reminded me of butterscotch rolls and I reflected on lessons learned. I appreciate the fact I can eat a butterscotch roll and relish its goodness and taste its sweetness. Butterscotch rolls are one of life's blessings and I'm greatful.
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