The Last Meal My Mama Cooked For Me
Café Menu for Thursday, May 29, 2014
Today’s Special is: Celebrating Ordinary Moments
Carefully prepared just for you by your friend, Dawn Neely
For I received from the Lord what I also passed on to you: The Lord Jesus, on the night he was betrayed, took bread,and when he had given thanks, he broke it and said, “This is my body, which is for you; do this in remembrance of me.” In the same way, after supper he took the cup, saying, “This cup is the new covenant in my blood; do this, whenever you drink it, in remembrance of me.”
- 1 Corinthians 11:23-25 NIV
My sweet Mama took her last breath on earth and her first breath in heaven on Easter Sunday, April 8, 2011. She was my cheerleader, my role model of unconditional love, and a witty, stylish strawberry blonde that loved to play bridge and loved her children.
We just recently celebrated the third anniversary of her home-going; I thought back through my bank of memories to the last meal she cooked for me. It was my favorite meal; country style steak and gravy, real mashed potatoes, her canned green beans from the garden, rolls, sweet tea and apple pie. The last meal she cooked for me was on my birthday in 1991.
Not long after my birthday, Mama began calling me to ask what she should have for supper. We lived sixty miles apart. I fought her diagnosis of dementia as long as I could until I realized upon my next visit home, that if we were going to have supper, I would have to cook it. Somehow, being the oldest daughter in the family, the meal planning and preparation fell to me. I really did love to cook so I didn’t mind. However, it was sad to say good-bye to my mother’s cooking, seeing her busy pulling out pots and pans and fussing over how much butter to add to the potatoes. The acceptance and the transition to cook for her and dad needed to occur rather quickly, and it was necessary. Eventually, my sister and brother-in-law came to live with my parents and provided loving and exceptional care for them. But when I was in town, I gave my sister a break and went to the grocery store before I arrived at the house, groceries in hand, understanding my weekends now at my home place would involve three meals a day.
In many ways, it was such a blessing to cook for her. She had taken care of six children, cooking and cleaning and seeing to our needs for well over forty years. As in similar cases of dementia and eventually Alzheimer’s, her mind fell to things of the past. As she slowly forgot who I was, she still smiled and welcomed me home as she would any visitor. Eventually she even forgot that she had eaten, and she would ask when supper would be ready. When I told her we had already eaten, she would smile and say, “Did I enjoy it?” to which I would respond, “Yes, you did.”
I did not recognize those ordinary moments of Mama cooking and doing for me as being extraordinary. I took them for granted and never gave thought to a day and time where she would never cook for me again. Did the disciples feel that way when they remembered their last supper with Jesus? Granted, having Jesus wash their feel had to be a singular moment, but breaking bread and drinking wine was customary. How could they have truly understood the significance of that evening? The scriptures teach that some of the disciples did eat other meals with Jesus following His resurrection. “Jesus then took the bread and gave it to them. He did the same with the fish. This was now the third time Jesus had shown himself alive to the disciples since being raised from the dead.” John 21:13-14 (MSG) However, Jesus told His disciples and us through the scriptures, that the meal in the Upper Room would not be eaten again until His second coming. “But I say unto you, I will not drink henceforth of this fruit of the vine, until that day when I drink it new with you in my Father's kingdom.” Matthew 26:29 (KJV)
Not long after we had finished what was to be our last Thanksgiving meal with Mama, we were cleaning up the kitchen, and she called from the den to ask when we were going to eat. I explained that we had already eaten turkey and dressing and all the fixings. In her customary manner, she inquired if she had enjoyed the meal. Then she asked, “Who fixed it?” I confessed that I did but then quickly added, “You were the one who taught me how to cook,” to which she replied, “No wonder it was good!”
Is your Mama is still alive? Can you go to her house and enjoy a home cooked meal? Then please recognize that as a blessing and take a moment to savor the view of your Mom in the kitchen, fussing over you because she loves you and still cares. There are little moments that seem so ordinary but in light of our mortality, they pass quickly, without notice, unless we ask God to make us sensitive to those everyday blessings in our lives.
Dear Father in heaven, how easily we take Your blessings for granted. To be able to walk and talk and breath on our own; to be able to see and hear and eat without assistance. To have a Mama who cooks for us and an appetite to enjoy what she labors in love to fix us. Open our eyes, dear Lord, to those that we hold most dear, and remind us through Your Holy Spirit to be thankful for those ordinary moments. In Jesus’ name, Amen.
© 2014 by Dawn Neely. All rights reserved.
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Originally published Thursday, 29 May 2014.