I teach a cooking class at a nursing home. Actually, I don’t teach anything. I go in tell them a story or two, show them how I make something and then they eat. The activity director told me that is the only time some of these people laugh all week. I doubt if that is true but I do know they like to eat.
Monday, I was walking down the hall heading towards the activity room when I noticed how hot it was. I was hoping it was just the hallway but soon discovered it wasn’t. The activity room was like a furnace.
My helpers started rearranging the room. I usually have one helper but today I had two. Lindsey, the lady who had helped me for the past two months was leaving and the lady who was replacing her was there. I started arranging things on the table and one the residents said, “Ralph, were making strawberry shortcake, right?” Yes, today was strawberry shortcake day with homemade shortcake. I had talked to Marilyn
and gotten her recipe for homemade shortcake. It’s quick, it’s easy, and most importantly it is really, really good.
We did an activity they had all been looking forward to. We made a cookbook with all the recipes we had prepared over the past two months. Pictures of the cooking class were on the front and back cover and many people got excited when they found themselves in the pictures. Then it was time to make the strawberry shortcake. I took out all the ingredients while explaining who Marilyn was, when I first had the shortcake, and why I thought it was so good. Then I asked Karen, my new helper, to come over and the following conversation took place:Ralph:
Could you get me a towel?Karen:
Either a hand towel or a bath towel it doesn’t matter as long as it is clean.Karen:
Did you spill something?Ralph:
No. Look around this room. Half these people are wearing either a sweater or a jacket. I have sweat running off my forearms, dripping off my face, and going down my neck. It’s hot in here.
She agreed to get me one. That’s when I said, “You might want to get three; one for me, one for you and one for Lindsey. We’re not making strawberry sweat
cake here.” She giggled and soon reappeared with three hand towels. After sopping up the excess moisture on my face and arms we went through the process of how to make homemade shortcake. Then, like ever week, whatever we were making magically appeared.
We cut the shortcake, placed a piece on all the plates, and topped it with sweetened strawberries and a scoop of whip cream. I placed a plate in front of an 86 year old lady while telling the residents, “I know we all like strawberries and we all like whipped cream. But, tell me what you think of that shortcake.”
That’s when I heard the comment of the day. The eighty-six year old lady took a bite of the shortcake, smiled, and said, “That tastes just like the short cake my Momma use to make. I miss my Momma.”
Walking outside I noticed how cool it was. It was like a cold front had passed through. I went to the weather station and discovered it was eighty-one degrees with fifty-five percent humidity. Normally, that would be hot for this time of year but today it felt good. But, not as good as the memories stirred up by that shortcake.