“Life is uncertain. Eat dessert first.”
Me: “What did you have for lunch?”
DooDaddy: “Fried chicken and vanilla ice cream. You know, simple food.”
You’d think by the time you’re 86 or so years old, you wouldn’t really care what you eat. Chances are your teeth are shot, and your mouth is full of elaborate dental work like the grid of a skyscraper – bridges, caps, partials, veneers – or maybe you’ve had ‘em all pulled and you’re sporting dentures. My parents never had dental insurance, but that didn’t stop them from undergoing expensive and painful gum and teeth work. DooDaddy has a regular dentist, a periodontist and an oral surgeon in his little black book.
Nevertheless, he can wax poetic about breakfast. It’s the highlight of his day. “I have trouble eating dry eggs, because they fall off the fork,” DooDaddy once complained while in the hospital, barely pausing for breath before lifting another forkful to his mouth. He made do, despite the dryness of the eggs.
But oh the glory of Breakfast At Shannondale – like manna in the desert for the Israelites.
#TBT all the way to yesterday. Wednesdays are now #GeezerWednesdays, as I am devoting them to the care & feeding of my favorite old people. I arrived shortly after breakfast. Let’s listen in …
Me: “What did you have for breakfast?”
DooDaddy: “My FAVORITE breakfast with VERY. CRISP. BACON.”
Gmamma: “What did he say?”
DooDaddy: “One egg over easy on toast. Prune juice. And a doughnut, just for fun.”
Gmamma: “What’s he saying?”
DooDaddy: “And those little squares (hand motions here) … Those little squares”
Me: “Ummm …”
DooDaddy: “Those little squares of cereal that are iced …”
Gmamma: “Frosted Mini Wheats!”
Me: “I thought you liked Honey Nut Cheerios?”
DooDaddy: “I do, but I was taking a break.”
DooDaddy: “And about half the time we split a banana …”
Me: “You split half a banana?”
DooDaddy: “No we split a WHOLE banana about HALF the time. But HALF the time we don’t even HAVE a banana.”
Gmamma: “Doughnuts are supposed to be greasy.”
Me: “Yeah, dry cakey doughnuts are the worst.”
Gmamma: “What’d she say?”
Maybe it has to do with being Southern and food being such a big part of our culture. Every family gathering happens around food. Holidays, weddings, funerals, parties, it’s all about the food, which becomes another benchmark of female perfection. DooDaddy’s Aunt Edie was known for her boiled custard (hand stirred for an hour) and his Aunt Laura for her chocolate wet cake. If you weren’t an accomplished hostess, you were a failure in the Southern society of my parents’ world.
And there were stories about young matrons not getting into the Junior League because they made their chicken salad with dark meat.
For geezers, food becomes the connection to their past lives, the smells and tastes of happier, healthier times before old age and diverticulitis and diabetes. The good old days when you could eat whatever the hell you wanted and not be up all night with indigestion.
After his umpteenth TIA/seizure/spell, DooDaddy was instructed to go on a low-carb diet and give up his beloved breakfasts and desserts. It was like you’d popped all the balloons at a kid’s birthday party. He was thoroughly dejected.
Fortunately, Dr. Johnson, DooDaddy’s long-time internist nipped the restricted diet plan in the bud, basically paraphrasing Gmamma’s needlepoint pillow. Life is short. Eat Dessert First. He told Dad to eat whatever he wanted, including his requisite eggs & bacon breakfast. It was like a Get Out of Jail Free card and Christmas morning all rolled into one.