“Just one last loaf.”
That’ was what Grandma had said as she pleaded with Mary. Now Mary’s heart pounded as she set out her ingredients and tried not to cry. There’d be too much salt in the banana bred if she cried in it.
Grandma had been growing weaker with the effects of old age for months. The winter they were currently frozen in had been a hard one. The cold that Grandma had caught was taking all the strength she had left to fight. She knew, they all knew, it wasn’t going to be enough.
That was the injunction from the naturopath, but Grandma knew it was almost time for her last journey and she wanted one last loaf; one last loaf of the banana bred that she had taught Mary to make using her own recipe. Mary had said no for a week, but today, she couldn’t do it anymore. She knew it was almost time to say good-by to Grandma and she wanted it to be a memorable farewell.
The tears almost broke through as Mary remembered the times she’d spent with Grandma in this kitchen learning to cook the good old comfort foods for which Grandma was famous. They’d talked, laughed, and learned about Jesus together. All this mixed in with discussing the differences between fluid ounces and cups.
As she remembered those times, Mary finished the bred and put it into the oven. What would she do with the time? Grandma was napping and Mary didn’t want to wake her until the banana bred was done. She sank into a chair and let the tears come. Best to have it all cried out so she could enjoy the last loaf with Grandma.
The timer beeped as Mary finished crying the last of her tears. As the banana bred cooled, Mary let herself remember again. Chicken and dumplings, meatloaf, chocolate-chip cookies with big chips in them, and of course, banana bred. Grandma had taught her so much. Every cooking lesson seemed to have a deeper meaning for Grandma and Mary. Grandma had a way of using cooking to teach life lessons that Mary knew would stay with her for the rest of her life.
Now, after her good cry, the memories made Mary smile. She was still smiling as she gathered butter, knives, and plates, put them on a tray, and softly carried them into Grandma’s room. Grandma was just waking up as Mary walked in.
“Is that the banana bred?”
“Yes Grandma,” Mary answered, “it turned out great.”
“I’ll be the judge of that. Give us a knife and the butter.”
Smiling at her still feisty grandmother, Mary did as she was told and pulled up a chair for herself. As they ate that one last loaf, grandmother and granddaughter laughed and talked just like they used to do. Mary hardly noticed Grandma’s coughing fits and pauses for breath. In that time Grandma did for Mary as she had always done. She made this cooking experience into a lesson for life. Sitting with her Grandma eating one last loaf of banana bred, Mary learned how to say, “good-by until we meet again.”
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