I often flip through my old photo albums, tattered and worn from years of misuse. I stop on the old pictures of my mom and I when I was just a kid, and my mind is momentarily transported back to that time and location. It feels so real. It was.
Some of my favourite pictures date from a time when my mom was raising a young, rambunctious boy with more energy that the electricity company. I would only settle down long enough to watch my mom making dinner and less time eating it. It was the story of us, when it was all we had.
There was a period of time when my mom was a single parent trying to guide her son through an ever-changing world, and taking a leap of faith that I was following close behind. And there were periods when things were tough, and I was tough to handle, but we progressed and survived. All the better because of it.
I was lucky that my mom often wanted to document those times. We hit up every photo booth whenever we were in a mall. My mom kept hers locked away in her wallet in her purse and every once in a while I would ask if she still had them. She displayed it proudly every time. I still rememeber those pictures. How could I forget.
I have some great memories of those younger days. They often involve me playing sports or spending time at my grandparents, but most of them involve my mom in the kitchen and the food that she put on the table in front of me each night. It helped paint on the future canvas of my life.
Food followed me everywhere I went as a child. I would head off to school each morning a few blocks away from home with my lunchbox packed and held tight to my side. Once the school bell rang at noon I would find my favourite seat in the cafeteria and sit back and watch the other kids try to make a trade with me. I wasn’t having it. I ate real food, plus I knew the love put into that lunch everyday. It fueled me, literally and figuratively.
Life continued on the course that was drawn out for us until I was in my late teens, right about the time my mom started feeling sick. And it got worse every day. Physically, she was a mess. Emotionally, she was frustrated and defeated. The doctors didn’t have an answer as the symptoms grew stronger and more frequent. One night after the next spent awake in the bathroom clinging to normalcy. One night after the next crying myself to sleep and wishing it all away.
One day during this time I was rummaging through my parents room and stumbled upon some letters addressed to me. I was too curious not to read them, even though every fibre in my body was telling me not to do it. Heartfelt letters from a mother to a son about an unknown illness and where it was headed. She had dreams for me. She had the same ones for herself up until this point. And she was scared.
There were words of lost hope and wanting all that pain and uncertainty to go away. And sprinkled amongst them were words of wisdom to her son and how proud she was of the young man I was becoming and a promise that one day I’d be ok again. I couldn’t read any further once the tears rained from my eyes and bled the ink on the paper below. I put the papers back together and went to my room. I got on my knees and prayed beside my bed.
I like to think that my prayers were answered that fall night all those years ago. She deserved a better fate, so she was given one. It doesn’t matter why or how, it just matters that it happened. I had beautiful memories up until my teenage years, and thankfully I’ve been given thousands more since.
All things considered, I’ve been very fortunate in my life. I met my fabulous wife a few years ago and my mother was there on my wedding day. Although they never figured out what was causing the illness, they cut out one thing after another from her diet until the symptoms went away. Not the ideal approach, but it has worked all these years later.
My relationship with my mom is great to this day. I can say better than most. It’s probably one of the reasons I had my parents stand up for me on my wedding day. And we had my wife’s parents stand up as well. After all those years as a young mother and son, we had made it. Together. All those years ago, I never thought it would happen.
I’m lucky that she was around for my wedding and she was the one on top of the hill overlooking the ocean giving me one final speech, clutching my hand and telling me how proud she was. I already knew. I just hope she knows how proud I am of her.
It was the best day of my life that day, for more reasons than the obvious. My mother was there to pass me off to my wife, and my mother-in-law, an amazing woman and equally blessed soul, was there as well. Aside from my wife, she was the first person I saw during the ceremony, fighting back the tears.
All those years ago it was my mom making the meals on Mother’s Day. That stopped when I learned how to cook. And it’ll continue like that for as long as she’ll let me. It’s one small way I say thanks every year. Thanks.
So today I’ll be in my favourite spot in the house, making this dish and others to the three most important women in the world. And wrapped up in each bite will be love and appreciation for the woman who raised me.
Happy Mother’s Day!
From my kitchen to yours, happy eating!
Prawn Curry on Rice
- 2 tbsp. curry paste
- 1 can of coconut milk
- 2 cups small white potatoes, halved
- 1 tsp. cinnamon
- 2 cardamon pods, crushed
- 1 green chilli, halved and deseeded and sliced on the bias
- 1 tsp. fresh grated ginger
- 12-14 king prawns
- 1 tsp. dark brown sugar
- 1 lime, juiced
- 1 tbsp. peanuts, roughly chopped
- small handful basil, finely sliced
- Using a large saute pan, mix the curry paste and the thick part of the coconut milk and cook over medium heat until aromatic. Pour in the rest of the coconut milk and simmer for a couple of minutes. Add in the potatoes, cinnamon, cardamom, ginger and green chilli and simmer for 15, or until the potatoes are tender.
- Add the shrimp, brown sugar and lime juice and cook for a further 4 minutes and until the shrimp are cooked.
- Serve the curry on a bed of rice and sprinkled with peanuts and basil.