Far from my husband and far from my own bed, I lie awake in my friend’s guestroom several years ago, stuffed up from a head cold and hacking, longing for sleep to overtake me.
Instead I envisioned peanut butter and jelly sandwiches accompanied by steamy hot chicken noodle soup, foods my mother used to serve me at times like this. I could practically taste the smooth peanut butter and tangy grape jelly on soft white bread.
When I was a child, I had a routine for eating my sandwich and soup. Bite of sandwich, spoonful of soup, slight pause; bite of sandwich, spoonful of soup, slight pause. Sometimes I’d dunk a corner of my sandwich into the soup…the ultimate blend! Mmmmm. Mom's love gift to me was smooth and warm as it soothed what ailed me and warmed my soul.
Since on that particular night, I couldn’t have the coveted sandwich and soup, and since I couldn’t sleep, I decided to write about the comfort foods I remembered as a young girl. Included on my list was macaroni and cheese. Mind you, not the kind out of the box. Oh, no. Mom made hers from scratch, boiling the elbow macaroni and then smothering it with the most wonderful white sauce and melted cheese. Then there was the lemon pie piled high with meringue, still a favorite.
When I stayed home from school because I didn’t feel well, I’d listen from my bedroom as Mom rattled around in the kitchen, and I knew something special was on its way. If Mom made a trek downtown on one of those days, she’d bring me back an added treat – a Nancy Drew mystery.
I must say, my comfort foods have changed somewhat, although I still enjoy the tastes from my past. Now my husband brings me something chocolate to satisfy my soul. And Nancy Drew has been replaced by Mary Higgins Clark. But the memories linger and are comforting in themselves.
I took another swig of cough syrup, rubbed menthol on my neck, and tried again to sleep. No comfort foods that night. But, be sure, before the week was over, I made a trip to the grocery story for a good old-fashioned dose of comfort. I also went by the library to see what my friend Mary was up to.
If I ever needed some of Mom’s comfort foods, it’s today, October 5, 2010. But she doesn’t cook any longer. In fact, my sister and I will be moving Mom into an assisted living facility this afternoon.
All I have now are the memories, but how sweet and soothing those memories are. Thank you, Mom, for your gifts of love and comfort over the years. I am blessed beyond measure…and I’m so grateful!