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Aunt Lois

Monday, March 17, 2014

Yesterday was the best Sunday I have had in quite awhile. No binging. Some people would say I was borderline. I ate plenty. I just didn't feel out of control like I did last Sunday.

I didn't have problems with Sunday binges until I took the job with the paper. I think getting up in the middle of the night to go to work before we make the long pilgrimage to church has brought the underlying emotional issues I have with Sunday food to the surface with fierce force.

The depth of understanding I have about my Sunday eating issue is this. I miss Aunt Lois and all the things she represented.

Aunt Lois died in 2005 after a long and valiant fight with cancer. She never married. She lived with my grandma and grandpa and took care of them until their deaths. Grandpa died in 1959. Grandma passed away in 1982 (I think). Aunt Lois lived in the same house she was born in until she was so sick she had to go into a skilled nursing facility.

Aunt Lois was my second mom. She hardly ever babysat me, but I loved going over to her house, especially on Saturday mornings. Grandma baked sourdough bread every Saturday. She made lots of it because, usually, on Sunday their little house was packed with family and friends.

I always asked for the heel of the bread. I still love eating the heel of a warm loaf of bread. I love crusty bread. When I was very young, I remember Grandma saying, "The heel isn't the best part of the bread." But I asked for it so often, she quit saying anything.

I remember how the kitchen smelled, and how warm it was. It was a tiny, little, not at all fashionable house. Everything was very old, and it was packed with stuff. But it was always very clean. It was a farmhouse, " the middle of nowhere...," as my friends in college were fond of saying. One bathroom.

The pressure cooker was frequently going - usually with meat. The adults would settle in around the large kitchen table to talk. If my cousins were there, we would take our bread outside, eat, and then play. In fact we were usually instructed to do so. But they all lived several hours away. My brother and sister weren't born until I was almost a teenager, so usually it was just me. On those Saturdays I would often settle in with the grown ups and listen to the conversations. Farming, the weather (always utmost on a farmer's mind), news of family, news of neighbors, politics, religion. The topics ran the gamut. Coordinating plans for the next week's activities. Sometimes there was bustling around because we were going shopping. Lots of laughter. One of my most vivid memories of childhood is my great uncle's belly laugh.

On Sunday after church we were always invited to Aunt Lois and Grandma's house for Sunday dinner. They frequently had the preacher over. These were all men I had a tremendous amount of respect for. Although they varied in ability when it came to holding my attention from the pulpit, I enjoyed spending Sunday afternoons with them. And the little farmhouse was frequently packed.

One Sunday it was planned for the preacher to come over for dinner. There wasn't such a large group for lunch that Sunday. There was some doctrinal issue that had come to the forefront in the church. One of the other preachers that preached for us had preached at another congregation that morning. (We were on a circuit.) He stopped by midafternoon. He was wondering how to handle the issue. (I don't even remember what it was now.) As they were talking, there was a knock at the door. In walks a third preacher who was just driving by and saw their cars at Aunt Lois'. These were the three giants of my childhood spiritual growth. All with their Bibles out. All seeking guidance from the scriptures about how to handle the situation. Obviously, it was a powerful image for me.

The food at Aunt Lois'. "Just come over for sandwiches," she would say. The table would be about to break with all the food. She always wanted you to eat more. One time when my other grandma was visiting and staying with us, we had Sunday dinner at Aunt Lois'. When we got home that evening, Grandma H was pacing between my bedroom and hers. "Oh Gully (Her pet name for me.), I sinned. She talked about how much she ate and how delicious it was. We commiserated. I had eaten too much too, as usual. Finally, exasperated, she exclaimed, "NO ONE should be able to cook like that!"

I am missing Sundays at Aunt Lois'. Obviously, not just the food. But the food is what I am using to try to stay linked with her. Saturday is usually a big cooking day for me. I pack our Sunday lunches. I have for almost 20 years now. Initially, it was to save money, but now I realize how much I love the home cooking. I have a reputation at the little convenience store we stop at. The workers frequently ask me what we are having for lunch and comment about how good it smells. Of course it makes me smile.

Yesterday DH and I talked about how nice it will be someday to live closer to church and have people over for dinner after worship. But that isn't going to happen for awhile. Yesterday I sat with a quilt Aunt Lois made wrapped around me. I know she would be proud of me. Thinking about that helped me eat a little less than I have been on Sundays.

When we got home, I took a nap. I think that helped too. I made myself do one constructive thing I don't usually do on Sundays. I washed dishes.

I know the Sunday battles I'm having with my appetite aren't over, but I do feel like I've taken one step toward overcoming them.

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Member Comments About This Blog Post
    This is wonderful -- thanks for sharing.
    1481 days ago
    Yes, your Aunt Lois would be proud of you, and so proud that you shared precious memories of her on this blog. What a wonderful blog to read. Your childhood environment sounds like the "Walton Mountain" neighborhood. You are lucky indeed to have these memories, especially memories of lots of laughter!

    1496 days ago
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