My mom’s been gone for a little over two years and I still experience twinges of grief at odd moments. I’ll hear a piece of classical music on the radio that reminds me of her, or a scene from a movie will spark a totally random, long-forgotten memory.
Shortly after she died I found myself making pancakes all the time–without even thinking about it. I’ve been known to go through phases with favorite foods. I’ll eat a lot of some sweet, carbohydrate-rich food for a period of time until I get sick of it and move onto something else–or abstain. It dawned on me during a carboholic pancake-craving moment that one of my fond memories of Mom from when I was little was Sunday morning pancake breakfasts.
Mom, who was not a very good cook by most accounts, would make these amazingly light and fluffy pancakes on the Sunday mornings she didn’t have to work. She would get up pretty early–or maybe I just got up late. Whenever I heard her singing along with the radio–the local classical music radio station must have had an opera program on Sunday mornings–and smelled bacon sizzling, and sometimes burning, in the pan, I knew my brothers and I were in for a treat.
I’d go downstairs and perch myself on the stool next to the stove, watching her work. Mom would dip a soup ladle in the thick, slightly lumpy batter and carefully pour just enough onto the griddle to make perfectly round flapjacks that would bubble up with tiny little air pockets when it was time to flip them over. I’m sure I pestered her every time in the way little kids are so good at: “Are you going to make my animal pancakes, Mom?” I’d ask, even though I don’t ever remember a time when she didn’t. She’d smile and tell me to go set the table.
After using up most of the batter for the traditional, round flapjacks, she always made a few special pancakes for me in the shape of animals. She had the most success with bears, but she also tried making lions and elephants, too. That little gesture went a long way in making me feel special.