The Mom loves me to bits, this I know. This has never been in doubt, but what’s funny is how I discern this love. It’s not so much that she tells me, which of course she does, and it’s not the cards she sends, nor the clippings, nor the hugs I get when I’m at home.
Rather, it’s little things like peas.
The Mom knows I love peas. There is always a large bag of frozen peas waiting for me when I get home. When asked about what we ought to have for dinner, my usual refrain is: Rice is nice! And, Peas!
My diet isn’t very exciting, and it’s designed to be that way. It’s comprised almost exclusively of things that are known to not make the Crohn’s Baby angry. It is a small list.
Anyhow, one year, a few summers ago, The Mom went out of her way to get me fresh peas. Being a bit thick sometimes, it hadn’t ever occurred to me that these were things we could eat, these fresh peas. She brought them home, brandished the bag triumphantly, and then set about shucking the peas. This was not something she enjoyed, but she did it, and I devoured the freak peas. They were even more delicious than the frozen peas I was used to. In fact, I think my delight was such that it encouraged The Mom to repeat this fresh peas business. I believe that I talked non-stop about the delights of fresh peas, and marvelled, as a child would do, on the process of shucking them, and so on and so forth. When I am excited about something, I tend to babble on and on and on about it.
This summer, The Mom had a fresh bag of peas waiting for me. Fresh peas. Crazy D was home that day, and when I asked, rather foolishly, how we ought to cook them (what I was really asking was how long do I have to boil them), he looked at me as though I were a bit of an idiot, and stated, “We can just eat them like this.”
I was impressed. We didn’t even need to boil them, that’s how good they were.
The Mom, during the whole time I was ranting and raving about the fresh peas (I even have a special silly voice I put on to say peas, such is the level of my devotion), stood in the kitchen with a look of pride on her face.
She will go above and beyond, particularly when I’m unwell, to find something – anything – that I can and will eat. But when I’m ill, sometimes I don’t have the proper level of enthusiasm. And she doesn’t get the reaction she’s hoping for, which is basically child-like delight.
This summer though, well, those peas went down a treat. I talked about them for days.
But it’s not just peas I get when I’m home. The Mom goes out of her way to feed me all the foods I like that I can’t get in the UK, which doesn’t just mean peaches and corn on the cob, and tomatoes that taste like tomatoes. It means all the things she cooks. It means home cooking. She’ll make chicken soup, peach pie, burgers, granola, and this chicken and wine sauce dish that I quite like. She’ll even make that with green beans for me because that’s what she’s also served it with and thus, to me, it can be served with nothing else.
It’s these little things that to me mean everything. Because it tells me that she knows me, and remembers me, and that her home is always still my home.
This year, I took the last piece of peach pie back to England with me, and ate it, gripped with hideous jet lag, on the sofa of my flat in Bristol. It was like every other time I’d go back to my own apartment in Toronto. There would always be one last piece of pie. I remember eating it and thinking how funny it was that I’d managed to smuggle a piece of home back into the country. There is nothing in the world like The Mom’s peach pie. And I’m glad my apartment got to host it.
It’s a hard thing to do living away from your family, and there are days when I am ready to move back home and just take up residence at The Mom’s again. I miss her and my brother and sister desperately some days. And though I know that one day I’ll go home again, until then, I know I can always cook up some peas and be reminded of my people, my family.
Because food is love. Fresh or frozen, peas are a bright green hug from The Mom.