I'm sitting here eating my breakfast. Today I am having a serving of Quaker Steel Cut Oats and a cup of coffee. I wish I had the discipline to have oatmeal every morning, but 25 minutes for a bowl of porridge is a lot of time
spent. I usually just have coffee and then snack for the first half of the day. Alternatively, I might eat dinner leftovers if they were particularly good the first time around. There is a portion of Shrimp in Garlic Butter over Cheesy Polenta in the refrigerator.
Oatmeal sounded better this morning.
Funny thing about that decision is that I used to hate oatmeal. My mother would occasionally make oatmeal and force me to eat it. It was like tasteless, lumpy paste. And it was usually cold by the time she served it. Mom was
a really good baker, and she could cook a very few things well. Overall, she was a terrible cook. Broccoli was always cooked to olive drab mush. In fact every vegetable ever served was cooked into submission. Most meats were not well done, they were more likely
to be incinerated. I think she used to be a good cook too. But she lost heart. Somewhere along the road of life she gave up. She stopped baking and she usually resorted to TV Dinners, then when Hamburger Helper came out, she added that to her menu plan. She
also made a truly horrible dish with instant rice, condensed mushroom soup and cubed spam. The horror. I learned to cook because she decided to not cook anymore.
I hope you don't think I am dishonoring my mother. It just is what it is. I love my mom. She was always there for me. I think she always tried her best to encourage me, and set a good example where she could. Isn't that all
a person can do? My mom is still kicking after 90 years on this planet. She has some form of dementia, but she has not been actually diagnosed. The doctors felt that it wasn't really necessary to pin it down. She lives in a care center now because she is too
weak to take care of herself, and her mind would not allow her to care for herself even if her body was strong. I guess she is in that care center because I am too weak to take care of her too.
She lives in Minneapolis and I was able to see her the other day when I flew in to meet my wife and then fly on to the city in which we will soon be living. It's about 3 hours from Minneapolis, which means that I'll be able to
see mom regularly instead of occasionally. When I walked into her room she was holding a teddy bear as though it were a child, and she was crying over it. She looked up when I came in and brightened up a little bit, but told me she was so worried about her
"puppy." She thought that the staff was torturing her "puppy" by stuffing it's mouth with something so that she couldn't feed it. On her dresser were pictures of her grandkids. It was like a shrine. Each photo had offerings of candy, peanuts and muffins.
"I love those girls to pieces! But they make me so mad. They won't eat. But I love them. They talk to me all the time, but they just won't eat!" She has rather long, happy conversations with the grandkids according to the staff. She loves on them, encourages
them and gives them advice about their daily problems. Although it breaks my heart to see her like this, I think that it is also a blessing. She is happy and safe. She isn't trying to escape from the care center, and she isn't resentful that she is there.
It's a blessing too that mom still recognizes me. She does get confused occasionally and introduces me as her brother, but usually that is just difficulty in dredging up the right word. Every once in a while it really is a recognition
issue where she attaches memories to me that were of her little brother. She also recognizes my girls and wife when they come in for a visit. Though she does get very confused seeing both my girls and their photos in the same room. It's as though she isn't
quite sure which of them is the real one.
We don't get a choice in what happens to us in old age. Some might argue that we do, and I won't place myself in the judgment seat over them. I think that it is important that we realize that what happens to us isn't always about
us. Often what happens to us is a lesson for someone else, and how we handle the event is part of the lesson. Is that a reason to linger? For me, yes, it is. When it comes time for mom to be with the Lord, she will go. She wanted no drastic measures taken
to revive her. I feel the same way about my life. Right now, I will fight tooth and nail to stay alive for my family. If the day comes where I can no longer share wisdom, or be articulate, then if my body gives out, I don't want to be revived at all costs
either. Let me see the face of my Lord.
Isn't it interesting what memories and feelings boil to the surface as we eat breakfast? I believe that you deserve something for sitting through my blathering. The oatmeal I made today was excellent, and here's how you do it:
1/2 cup milk or half and half
1 cup water
1/4 cup steel cut oats
1 Tbs maple syrup
1 Tbs brown sugar
In a saucepan bring the milk and water to the boil. Reduce heat to low and add the oats, stirring them in well. Cover the saucepan, but beware of boil overs until the pan has come down to a low temperature.
Simmer the oats for about 20 - 25 minutes. Stir frequently as the oats will burn to the bottom of the pan. Add the maple syrup and the sugar when the oats have absorbed most of the moisture in the pan.
If you like, and I do, add raisins, dried cranberries, or a combination of dried fruits. You can add a bit of salt if you need to.
As the milk cooks down it becomes thicker, sweeter and creamier. I never used to like oatmeal, but now it's a great treat.