My Mother, Food and Me By Louise Lynch
The cake is crumbly so I break off a piece and squash it into a ball before holding it up to her mouth.
“One more piece?” I ask. She opens her mouth in response. I realise my hand is shaking and I know that tears will follow. The room is stiflingly hot and I desperately want to step out into the garden. Feeding your baby is such a positive, bonding experience; whether breast or bottle, spoon or squashed cake. You are totally focused on each other, holding each other’s gaze as the rest of the world recedes. Only this isn’t my baby. My babies are all grown up. This is my mother.
We have never had a particularly close relationship, but now, feeding her, then holding her hand while the Care Home entertainer massacres a Beatles medley on his ukulele I feel closer to her than I have in years. It seems feeding really is a bonding experience.
She no longer asks “What are you wearing?” in that way only a Mother can. She doesn’t make passive aggressive remarks about my hair, weight, life choices. She doesn’t sigh or roll her eyes. She doesn’t really talk at all.
Is it wrong that I get on with her better now that she has dementia and no longer knows who I am? Of course I wish with all my heart that she recognised me. Especially now, after 20 years of struggling with my weight I have finally lost 3 stone. That probably seems shallow, but let me put it in context with a phone conversation from a few years ago.
Me – Sorry I didn’t call last week. I was ill with gastroenteritis and couldn’t eat anything. I ended up in hospital on a drip.
Mother – oh, that’s good for you. You need to lose weight.
All my memories of my mother, good, bad and ridiculous, seem to revolve around food, from the 20 pound Christmas turkeys to homemade birthday cakes.
50 years ago she fed me as a baby and today, feeding her cake on a summer’s afternoon, our relationship comes full circle.
Words and images by Louise Lynch
Louise is the owner of Curly and Nibs, a gift shop full of vintage items and handmade gifts up-cycled from vintage toys and children's books. To get a closer look catch her at the Culture Day Belfast Bazaar at St Anne's Cathedral (21st September 2019) between 10.30am and 4.30pm.
Follow Louise here: Curly and Nibs
Cheryl & Lyndsey xx