Grandma was one of my most favorite people in the entire world. Walking into her kitchen felt like a warm hug.
There was always something baking in oven, cooling on the snitching table, bubbling on the stove and frying in the skillet.
My mouth would began salivating the minute I stepped on to the enclosed porch just off the kitchen. The smells were heavenly. Tastes were in the air.
Grandma always had had five other grandchildren, but when I was with her she felt like all mine. She had a way about her that made all six of us feel that way.
At Grandma’s I could eat as much as I wanted of anything I wanted. I never remember her telling me there wasn’t enough. If I requested she serve hoecake (a fried cornbread) with the meal, she’d whip up a batch. Anything I wanted, if she had it, I got it.
That’s a grandma for ya!
In contrast Mom had a different philosophy about food. If there were five of us at a meal, only five pieces of meat would be available. Food did not rain down on us like water from on high.
We were reminded that food was costly and that we should eat everything on our plates and to not do so was wasteful.
Mom had issues with emotional illness while I was growing up, but I don’t think that was what drove her control of food. I believe she really was genuinely concerned about our health, obesity and overeating. She knew diabetes and heart issue ran in our family.
When she fixed supper, she fixed a meat, vegetable and starch (potato, bread or pasta). Most of the time dessert was some kind of canned fruit.
I couldn’t help but contrast her meals with Grandma’s. Mom’s were stark; Grandma’s were overflowing with abundance.
In addition, the difference in the attention I felt was also extreme. At Grandma’s I felt focused on and cared for. At home, as the oldest I many times was taking care of Mom with very little care given to me.
I’m not complaining. I had a great childhood. I grew up strong and accomplished because of the responsibility I took on.
I have to admit, though, I always felt Mom’s way was wrong and Grandma’s way, right until I began to examine why my life revolved around comfort foods.
Comfort food to me was all the foods Grandma fixed. My favorites included country fried steak, mashed potatoes, gravy, hoecake, fried potatoes, hot rolls, oatmeal cake, oatmeal cookies, chocolate pie, creamed corn, mandarin orange salad and a myriad thrust in my lap.
I understood her love expressed to me through food. I also knew she was concerned for my health, especially when I gained an extreme amount of weight. Comfort foods were suddenly not so comfortable, but I felt powerless over them because I was hooked.
I knew I had a problem. I couldn’t stop eating all the items I grew up with. The surface of what I processed about my food issues went something like this. I learned to go to comfort foods because Mom was sick and I didn’t know how to handle the responsibility thrust upon me.
In 2009, though, light dawned as I realized I went to comfort food because I equated that with love. All of that came from my beloved Grandma.
For years, I had forgiven Mom for everything regarding my growing up. In my mind, I made her out to be the “bad” guy and Grandma the “good” guy. Slowly, I saw things more clearly.
Mom’s way of feeding us was to help us be healthy. Grandma’s contributed to my indulgent lifestyle which resulted in my super morbid obesity.
Let me say right here, I realize it was not Grandma’s fault or Mom’s, but mine. I just began to understand the root of the issue. Understanding that is the first step.
Next, I forgave Grandma. I just said out loud to God, “I forgive my Grandma for serving me unhealthy food which made me equate love and comfort with foods made with sugars and breads, which never took care of the problem and always left me wanting more of the same thing, yet never feeling filled.
“I renounce the lie that You, Holy Spirit, will give me things that are not good for me, won’t take care of my needs and will leave me wanting more and never feeling filled. Now, Holy Spirit, what is Your truth?”
No audible voice sounded from heaven, but in the depths of my soul, I saw a picture that exuded the feeling I got walking into Grandma’s kitchen. Only this time there was no food and no Grandma. There was just an overwhelming sense of a divine presence warming me from inside. It literally felt like a toasty fire was built inside of me.
It’s perhaps hard to understand how connected that made me feel to God, but it did. For perhaps one of the first times, I realized that fleeting warmth I felt when I smelled the food cooking was something I could have all the time, any moment of any day.
With Mom and Grandma both in heaven, family dinners are held at our house. I have to admit that it did seem a bit dishonoring to Grandma to not serve hot rolls and all the trimmings for family dinners.
Fattening, unhealthy food is not the way to love my family, though. Leaving them a better legacy of connections, love, care and genuine concern is. Our family dinners have become less food-focused and more people-focused. We still eat, but we celebrate who we are instead of what goes in our mouths.
After all isn’t that what leaving a legacy is all about?
If Grandma were here today she’d tell me how proud she is that I have overcome my extreme weight issue with God’s help. Then, she’d probably ask for my substitute healthy oatmeal cake recipe.
“I love you, Grandma.”
“Oh Child, if you loved me half as much as I love you, it’d be enough.”
Healthy Oatmeal Cake
3 mashed bananas
1/2 cup unsweetened applesauce
1/4 cup milk
2 cups oatmeal
1 tablespoon cinnamon
1/4 cup chopped pecans
Mix together and place in 8×8 sprayed pan. Bake for 15-20 min. at 350 degrees.
Sweet Grace Study will be held on Thursdays, 6:30-8:00 p.m., starting March 6 in Columbia, MO. For more information, please send me an email. I will add you to the list to receive information.
You will need a copy of Sweet Grace: How I Lost 250 Pounds and Stopped Trying to Earn God’s Favor and Sweet Grace Study Guide: Practical Steps to Lose Weight and Overcome Sugar Addiction. These are available by clicking on the links above or at the class the first night.
I am excited to share this venture with you! Please comment below if you are planning to join us!