A Death Worth Living

baked pie
Photo by Oleg Magni on Pexels.com

I grew up in the sixties in the Midwest where meat and potatoes were the staple dishes for dinner, with a side of gravy and served with bread and butter.  My mother created meals that satisfied her husband and four hungry boys.  For breakfast, it was often fried bacon with fried eggs.  For dinner, she usually served fried pork chops, fried chicken, chicken fried steak, fried hamburgers, fried fish, or fried ham.  She often served it with French fries or fried potatoes.  She fried all that in lard.  We ate fried food until the grease oozed from our pores.  Mosquitos who attempted to land on me slid right off.   Sometime in the seventies she read fried food wasn’t healthy, so she started broiling everything.  The gallon tub of lard disappeared to never appear again taking with it those crispy flavors.


Once a week she made pies.  The pie crust wasn’t from the freezer or a box.  She made it from scratch with flour, shortening, butter, water, a touch of sugar, and a sprinkle of salt.  After mixing the ingredients, she would roll out the dough, then lay it in the pie pan.  If it were a fruit pie another crust would go on top.  A while later she’d remove the pastry from the oven and put them on the counter to cool.  Pumpkin, apple, blackberry, and cherry were among my favorite.


Last fall I took Mom to one of her many doctor appointments and the nurse commented she was making pies for Thanksgiving.  Mom recited her pie crust recipe from memory. That was surprising since she has lost most of her long-term memory.  Mom can remember some things like her parent’s names, but she can’t remember the names of any of her twelve brothers and sisters.  Evidently, she made so many pies, the crust recipe was inscribed in her brain matter like an anchor tattoo on a sailor.


After that when I’d brag on Mom’s cooking and baking, I’d say, “Mom you sure cooked a lot of great meals in your day, didn’t you?”.  She’d usually comment “I guess,” not really remembering.  Then I’d say, “You sure made great pies.  What is your pie dough recipe?”  In a flash, she could recite it from memory.


Yesterday, I was bragging on her cooking ability, but when I asked her to agree, she commented, “Yeah, I guess so.  I don’t really remember.”  When I asked her for her pie dough recipe, she couldn’t give me the complete list.  Her voice trailed off after, “twos cup of flour, one cup shortening….”


Maybe it was a just a bad day as dementia patients have so many.  Or maybe her pie crust recipe like the names of her grandchildren has slipped away.  I was disappointed and reminded of how her memory ever-so-slowly is dissolving.  Like color photographs in a box, her memories fade until in time they will all be gone.


My mother has lost her short-term memory and is losing her long-term retention.  The disease will continue etching her brain until she eventually loses her life.   The extremely slow progression of the disease is better measured with a calendar than a watch.  Watching a person die with dementia is like watching a wreck in slow motion.  Whether we die slowly or rapidly, we will all die.  Death may roll over us like a crawling glacier or like a roaring avalanche, but it will overtake us.   Look at this scripture:


I again saw under the sun that the race is not to the swift, and the battle is not to the warriors, and neither is bread to the wise, nor wealth to the discerning, nor favor to men of ability; for time and chance overtake them all.  Moreover, man does not know his time.  Ecclesiastes 9:11 NASB


This reminds us that no matter a person’s ability, wealth, or fame, time catches all men and women. Death is the great equalizer.  Therefore, we must consider what is essential in our lives and strive for those things.  Those are the things that make life worth living.  In the same way, we should prepare for our eternal future.  Once we are overcome with death, I think we will find death is worth the living, too.

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