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Remembering My Mom - Life is Too Short

Not long ago, I was talking with a friend who recently lost her mom. Between that and today being Mother’s Day, I’ve been thinking a lot about my mom. And that includes thinking about how she ate.

Mostly health-conscious

My mom paid close attention to what she ate, and for the most part, she was quite health-conscious in what she ate. Some of that was by choice, but some of it was also out of necessity. Since she was allergic to corn, any products with corn syrup in them badly affected her, so even if she’d wanted to eat pre-packaged snack foods, she wouldn’t have been able to.

Instead, for snacks she stuck with store-brand animal crackers, homemade pumpkin muffins (made with molasses and just a bit of sugar), fruit, and sometimes saltines.

And for meals, she made sure we had plenty of vegetables. When possible, we had fresh veggies from the garden.

My mom in her happy place - gardening

But she also did a lot of canning to get us through the winter. Her favorites were green beans and stewed tomatoes, and I can still remember sitting at the kitchen table snapping green beans. She had canned so many that three years after she died, my dad still had quite a few jars of green beans and tomatoes in the basement, which he then gave to me and my brother. They still tasted fine even then.

Taste of sweetness

This doesn’t mean that my mom didn’t appreciate some sweet things. She might not have a lot of sweets, but on the occasions when she did, she thoroughly enjoyed them. One prime example was soft-serve ice cream, which she sometimes had despite her milk allergy.

She also used to pick raspberries in the summer, with the goal of freezing enough to make a raspberry pie for her birthday in January. We even brought a raspberry pie into the hospital shortly before she lost her struggle with cancer, which happened to be the day after her birthday. Although very weak, she was able to take a bite or two, at least enough to taste.

I thought of this when I read the chapter on “Bacon” in George Takei’s book Oh Myyy! - There Goes the Internet. In it, he wrote about the decadent attraction of bacon, and how so many people respond to it like a siren song, enough so that some restaurants now include bacon as part of dessert. While Takei said that he tries to be relatively healthy, he added, “Life is too short not to order the bacon dessert.” (p. 68)

Balancing act

When I think of my mom, who was just 48 when she died, I’m inclined to agree. But I also can’t help thinking what a difficult balancing act this can sometimes be, especially with societal and medical pressures encouraging us to only be focused on health. Given that life is short, the goal seems to be to extend it as long as possible.

But conversely, it’s not so much about the amount of time we have as what we do with it. Personally, I’ve always valued quality over quantity, and I do want to enjoy my time here, however much of it I might have.

That doesn’t mean I’m going to rush out and start eating bacon and desserts exclusively. Realistically, I don’t think I’d enjoy that for very long; I love too many other foods.

Instead, on those occasions when I want something but worry a little about what others might think (which still happens at times), I’ll try to remember this – that I want my life, short or long, to include both the savory and the sweet.


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