Let me just tell yáll. I was raised in North Carolina in the country. One of the things I remember most are those great big ole cat-head biscuits my grandma used to make. They were so good….slathered in butter with maybe a piece of ham or sausage tucked inside or just a little bit of scuppernong jam.
My childhood was jam-packed full of good old country cooking. All of my best and worst memories were always surrounded by this type of food. Weddings, funerals, birthdays, school accomplishments….all were centered around great big old spreads of fried chicken, banana pudding, hoe cakes, fat back, pinto beans and potatoes by the bucket. Everything was coated in cream or gravy or mayonnaise or a fried crust and was absolutely heaven on a plate.
Is it any wonder that when I am stressed or angry or sad or hell, even happy that these are the foods I have always turned to? Living away from family, I had to bring out the memories of the way granny used to make her biscuits. There weren’t any cups or measuring spoons in her kitchen. Everything was measured right there in the palm of her hand. Trust me, figuring out those measurements was something else too. She wasn’t real crazy about having anybody else in her kitchen…especially looking over her shoulder, so it was essentially a glean what you could as you could scenario.
Now, it’s funny that all these memories of food are coming to me now…..a week and a half after a fearful doctor’s visit where I thought I was having a heart attack. I was on my way to work and I could feel that elephant on my chest type feeling. I drove myself on in to my doctor’s office….don’t ask me why the hospital wasn’t my first thought. Well, it turned out to be hypertension…which I don’t take lightly. I had put myself into a full blown panic attack which resulted in the heart attack-like symptoms. The result of all this was having to give up all that which was sacred to me. No more fried foods, no more gravies, no more deep, rich black coffee, no more salt….having to totally retrain my taste buds.
The big thing for me was alleviating my stress. When the doctor told me that, I rolled my eyes with a “yeah right” type of attitude. He told that he was very serious and that I was going to have to become an expert at letting things go. Not all that easy for a Leo that is a very very strong fire personality. The hardest thing about all of this was the fact that food is what alleviates my stress. As I said earlier, I eat when any emotion raises its head…..it brings back happy memories.
Well, I have done really well with the diet part of all this. I did a little motivation spell when it all started, so that has helped quite a bit. The stress part has been a little more, shall we say…challenging. Of course, anything and everything that I would react to is going to happen when I am cutting out caffeine and refined sugars. Hell, that alone is like going through detox. Anything anyone said to me was like nails on a chalkboard….grating through to every nerve ending in my body. Anything that could go wrong at work has gone wrong. I have to say that, honestly, I failed most of those “don’t let it stress you” tests.
Now, I haven’t talked about my mama much, but my mama is a sweet little round woman with cotton candy hair and a smile that just makes you feel good all over. She is one of those women who hug you with their whole body. She is also full of spit and vinegar. She doesn’t take crap from anyone. The one thing that I have noticed…..even set back and pondered…is the fact that I have honestly never seen her stressed about anything. When money was tight, we just had a few more eggs that the chickens laid or potatoes from the garden. When something broke, we did without it until a new one could be bought. When she and pop fought, she was always the first one to say, “I’m sorry.” I never saw her and pop go to bed mad at each other.
I finally talked to mama last night about what was going on healthwise, and she just very matter-of-factly said, “Well, now I guess you just have to do it. No turning back, just eat what you have to and you got to stop letting things get to you. You just have to ask yourself if it’s really going to make any difference in a hundred years. Now my guess is, in a hundred years, you are going to be really old or really dead….so it really won’t matter.” Alot of wisdom comes out of that little lady.
So today, I get an email from my mama. It was the following story:
When I was a little boy, my mom liked to make breakfast food for dinner every now and then. And I remember one night in particular when she had made breakfast after a long, hard day at work. On that evening so long ago, my mom placed a plate of eggs, sausage and extremely burned biscuits in front of my dad. I remember waiting to see if anyone noticed!
Yet all my dad did was reach for his biscuit, smile at my mom and ask me how my day was at school. I don’t remember what I told him that night, but I do remember watching him smear butter and jelly on that biscuit and eat every bite!
When I got up from the table that evening, I remember hearing my mom apologize to my dad for burning the biscuits. And I’ll never forget what he said: “Baby, I love burned biscuits.”
Later that night, I went to kiss Daddy good night and I asked him if he really liked his biscuits burned.. He wrapped me in his arms and said, “Your Momma put in a hard day at work today and she’s real tired.. And besides – a little burnt biscuit never hurt anyone!”
It slapped me across the face a little bit. I had to realize that there are things that are important and things that really don’t matter one bit. Is it really worth getting stressed out because I am standing in the midst of a rainstorm and the dog won’t pee? No. I should relish the cleansing that the rainstorm is bringing. Is it worth getting bent out of shape about something at work that can be fixed in ten minutes time? No. I should just fix it or show the person who made the issue how to. It is a lesson learned. Is it worth getting pissed at my partner for not scooping the cat litter? Again, no. I should just go ahead and scoop it and be thankful for the hundred other things he does in the course of a week.
Isn’t it funny? My mama used food to teach me a lesson. Only she would be able to do that and still keep me on my diet. Is it any wonder I love her so much…..that beautiful little round woman with cotton candy hair and a smile that just makes you feel good all over. Even across the miles she sent me one of those hugs with just enough vinegar in it to sting a little but not burn.