Dana_birthday cakes

Prayers and Promises

My mother said food and happiness could not exist one without the other.

Food was love.

Food fixed things that were broken– Big things– like when best friends were no shows at birthday parties.

And hearts, when those we loved acted in despicable ways that threw out trust like dirty dishwater.

When you felt unworthy or discarded.

She knew that soaking in chocolate layer cake with freshly whipped cream created a snippet of joy.

So pervasive that while you were basking in it, you forgot who you were supposed to be.

Her magic way of feeding people disarmed you in ways that you never saw coming.

The way she poured my father a cup of tea, then slid that slice of freshly baked apple pie over to him in a way that spoke of love from the deepest places.

Mom stealthily moving the dishcloth over the table, as if scouring a crime scene for further evidence of– gratitude– beyond a stray crumb.

Together, her pie and touch could soften the consequence of everything from hurt feelings to full on sins, or any other calamity that was headed your way.

She would say “People come to the table hungry but leave with more than just a full stomach. Everyone is hungry for something– they cannot eat.”

Hard-to-tell truths were extracted through her warm bread buns slathered with melted truth serum butter that no lie or secret could withstand.

By the time you had taken a bite, she would have given the gentle intuitive pat of hand, as if signaling the inner storm that had been brewing to pour out.

Over a bowl of her fish chowder, you would agree to do just about anything good or holy; no need to seal promises on the bible, we “swore-on” and testified over Mom’s food.

That’s how she liked prayers and promises, simple yet powerful.

Dana O’Dell | Vancouver, British Columbia

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