I received some sad news this weekend about a friend of mine who has been battling colon cancer. Her cancer is back, this time in her lungs or her liver, my friend wasn’t sure which, and it doesn’t sound good. She has been on my heart and I have said many prayers for her since I heard
the news. I have thought of her husband, son and daughter and again prayed for them as they face this battle with her.
I immediately wondered what I should do, Facebook her, call her on the phone, or I could take her a meal. Would she need a meal now, or possibly when the necessary treatment begins. I wondered if I should even call, what if she is not ready to talk . . . . I pondered over what to do. Well, I could always send food. That is what southerners do. We carry food.
Like most women, we brand our dishes, especially our casserole dishes. We either use masking tape, red nail polish or a permanent magic marker. Otherwise, we’d never see our dishes again! We also save old butter and cool whip tubs just in case we need to carry something to someone and we say “Keep that . . . it’s throw away.” But our good dishes are definitely branded. There are many modern day beautiful monograms that you can now purchase to brand your dishes. Somehow I think they would lose their beauty with my Sharpie “HOOD” faded on the back of my french white corning ware.
I once took a “Five Hour Stew” to a friend at church who was recovering from surgery and I never saw that square cornflower blue 3 quart casserole again. That was 15 years ago, and I still remember that I never got it back. I asked her about it the other day, and she was amazed I never got it back. She had me describe it, which I did, in detail. I was sure she would produce it, but instead, she claimed all dishes were returned to the church kitchen. So . . . there is someone at First Baptist Church who still has my dish. I would look for it at the next pot-luck if I were still a member.
At pot-luck suppers, reunions, and fellowships, we can always spot the good dishes. You know the ones that are made from scratch, not wrapped in a plastic box from the grocery store (they are always the last to go). You can always spot the good stuff, the fried chicken, cheese cake, layered salad and deviled eggs that come from the experienced chef’s kitchen. We come to know their dishes, or we watch them walk in and make a mental note of what they brought. We hope and pray there is some left when it is our turn in line . . . oh Pat Jackson’s cheesecake . . . . so good and always gone!
For women who prepare the food, it is a labor of love. We do not do it because we like to spend all our time in the kitchen, but because we want to say to a friend in good times or bad, you’re part of us, you can count on us. It is one of the simplest, purest, most unselfish forms of friendship and compassion you will ever find. As I have watched women over the generations brand their dishes, grate coconut, sprinkle breadcrumbs over many a casseroles, save a gallon milk carton to carry some sweet tea, go through miles and miles of tin foil and plastic wrap, I have reached one conclusion: If your name is on your dishes it is probably written in The Book too.
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