Her table is always carefully set. She’s lived solo and eaten meals by herself for decades now, and (I’m pretty sure) never failed to lay down the mat, fold a napkin, and sit down properly, even for lunch. I, on the other hand, stand at the kitchen counter and chow. A nibbler and grazer–I’m a moving muncher, a vertical eater, hold the place mat. Lunch might be cereal (handfuls out of the box, not even poured in a bowl), cheese and crackers on a napkin (or semi-clean dish towel), and an apple, all eaten while sashaying around the kitchen, doing five other things at once.

My mom grew up in a household notorious for its food. My grandmother could fry a chicken, or a peach pie, or a salmon croquet, better than anyone. She was the iron skillet chef, long before Food had its own network and beefy celebs. My mother knew better than to try to compete. She perfected her own sophisticated tastes. Beef bourguignon, sole meuniere, killer collards and roasted chicken with carrots and celery that made the whole house smell heavenly. 

There are many ways to be nourished. I loved the irony: as mom got home from the hospital post-feeding tube procedure, her friends marched in carrying armfuls of food — chicken-spinach lasagne, chicken pot pie, a hefty pound cake glazed like a lemon ice storm. We enjoyed it together, savoring every bite by slow, difficult bite. As the muscles that chew, sip, chug and swallow go on strike, we’ll lean more on more on the slim tube that bypasses taste buds, knows no texture, no color, no sweet juice running down your chin. I have a feeling she’ll still set the table in prep for pouring the fortified creme brulee-looking formula down the tube. Her appetite for elegance demands it.


~ by Stephanie on 03/01/2010.

One Response to “A.Lot.(to)Swallow”

  1. Your sense of irony is fine. This is another beautiful slice of heartbreak.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: