I was standing in the yard, I think I was at Granny’s. But the trees were ones Daddy had planted, so they were precious to me. And as I stood staring at this one tree, it fell over. Toppled right to the ground. In that moment, my heart shattered. I fell to the ground crying. It was a link to him, and it was gone. Another connection cut off. As I wept, my tears falling into the grass beneath me, I wondered if it falling was a sign something bad had happened to Daddy. I thought about Mama and worried how she was handling it if something had happened.
Then I woke up and remembered. Silence.
Oh. That’s right.
It was just a dream.
Today for lunch I made two quick tortilla pizzas for my littles. We hadn’t had them in a while until I whipped them up one last week. They were so excited and ate every bite, so we’ve had them a couple of more times. Today as I was using the pizza cutter to slice one up for our Princess, I remembered that Daddy was also fond of this version of pizza in his last couple of years. After my dream last night, he and Mama were on my mind more than usual.
“Hey y’all, Cap loved this kind of pizza too. He told me about it after Maemae made it for him the first time.”
They both thought that was pretty cool.
“Mama, let me ask you something. Did you have to feed Maemae?”
*absolutely out of left field, that was*
I thought for a minute. “No baby, I didn’t. Maemae wasn’t really able to eat anything those last few weeks. They had her using something to help her breathe.” I held my own breath, fingers crossed there wouldn’t be any more detailed questions.
“Oh.” She thought for a moment, carrying her plate to the counter. “Did you ever have to feed Cap?”
Oh my. I did on occasion. It was mostly helping him get the cup Mama had put a straw in up to his mouth. Just at the end though. The last couple of days he wanted nothing.
I remember noticing in those last months when Daddy lost some of his motor skills, that Mama was fixing him sandwiches and then wraps. She’d put just about anything in a wrap–fried chicken, meatloaf, you name it–if Daddy liked it, it went in a wrap. At first I thought they had joined the “wrap”apalooza that the restaurants all seemed to be going to at the time, but then Mama commented nonchalantly about how it seemed like it was easier for him to handle a wrap.
Mama’s love language was food. We’ve laughed and joked about it over the years, and we even teased her unmercifully. She used to lay out a spread and apologize that it might not be “fancy” or “enough.” We’d shake our heads and dig in appreciatively. After Daddy died, and she was so tired from the diseases challenging her own body, she’d put a Stouffer’s Macaroni and Cheese in the oven, roast some broccoli, fry up some okra, and put out carrots and hummus as a side–and she would APOLOGIZE. Oh Mama. Don’t you know all we tasted was love?
Because that’s how she showed her love the best, it was important to her to feed Daddy. She couldn’t ease his pain, she couldn’t slow down the progression of the cancer, but she could by golly feed him. And feed him well. She’d cut up apple slices with at least one meal every day. He always did love his apples, and if she placed them in a certain bowl, he could get them out and eat them all by himself fairly easily. And the wraps. I don’t know if she fed him meals when we weren’t there, but I do know she got very creative when it came to making him good food that he could eat himself. She preserved his dignity through it all.
Bless her. I was watching. And paying attention.
I know that Walt Disney, bless his heart, has created an image of romance surrounded by singing forest animals, dancing and sewing mice, sea creatures, dancing until midnight, book-filled rooms with candlelight, and all kinds of happilyeveraftertheend’s, but for me, I know what true love looks like.
True love looks like hands held across a hospital bed. True love looks like a smile and a wrinkled nose. True love looks like tired eyes and vitamins served in a little cup every night.
True love looks like a wrap. Made special. For the one you love most.
Love to all.