Comforting food for the soul

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My mouth waters thinking of these delcious cakes that were made for our family the week my mother-in-law died.
My mouth waters thinking of these delcious cakes that were made for our family the week my mother-in-law died.
Lisa Boykin Batts | Times

On the day of my mother-in-law’s funeral earlier this month, the family gathered at our house. We talked. We looked at photos. We watched the children play. We reminisced. And we ate.

Fried chicken, squash casserole, butter beans, congealed salad, pasta salad, potato salad, field peas, pimiento cheese sandwiches, corn pudding and deviled eggs filled my kitchen countertop. They even thought of pickles, beets, plates and tea! It looked like the church homecoming meal had been moved to our house!

And when we didn’t think we could eat anymore, we pulled out an assortment of delicious cakes and chose between chocolate, strawberry and pound cake.

I didn’t cook a thing. Our dear friends from Marsh Swamp Free Will Baptist Church asked if they could make us a meal, and later, my mother-in-law’s church family at Pleasant Hope in Elm City called and said they would like to feed us as well. We were touched by their kindness and so pleased that someone wanted to help us at a very difficult time in our lives.

Bringing food to families who are grieving is a time-honored tradition. Friends know there aren’t many ways they can help, so they do the one thing they can do — they cook or they purchase food someone else has cooked.

There are several recipes I have made over the years to take to families who have lost a loved one. Often, I choose a coffee cake or maybe banana bread they can eat at breakfast. When our dear neighbor died recently, I took a big box of bagels and cream cheese the family could eat for breakfast for a few days.

I can say, from experience, that the generous gift of food is always appreciated when there’s a death in the family. It’s an outward gesture of love and service to the family, giving them one less thing to worry about.

When my parents died, the church auxiliary prepared a meal we ate at the church following each funeral. This time, it was better to eat at our home. Either way, it’s so nice for everyone to gather in one place to visit and talk. Without the meals, we would have likely gone our own way and missed a precious opportunity to visit with cousins we rarely see.

Once dinner was over after the funeral, we divided up the leftovers. The next day, while my husband and I were eating our lunch of delicious pimiento cheese sandwiches and deviled eggs, we once again thought of the sweet ladies who went out of their way to remember Reggie’s mama and do something nice for us.

We thank you.

And a special tribute to Ollie Mae Batts, my mother-in-law, who was one of my biggest supporters and most loyal readers. We miss you so much already.