The Mom Photo Essay Project On Instagram: Seven

Taking care of my mom has made me think about food in new ways. Mostly, I thought of it in terms of its necessity to survival and in terms of what to eat when I was hungry. As I've mentioned in the past two posts, aging causes our sense of smell and taste to fade which makes food less enjoyable, though it still is a necessity. What has happened with my mom has been the loss of enjoyment of things she once loved while making changes to the things she still likes – changes that make the food more enjoyable. My mom has always liked grits, though she never ate them much when I was growing up. She'd go through phases: buy a box and when it was gone not eat grits again for ages. In her 90s, she rediscovered her love for grits. Mom was never a savory grits person (I like mine with butter and salt, or, even better, with a scrambled or fried egg mixed in). Mom likes her grits sweet, with lots of butter. She needs to see the ring of yellow melted butter that pools around the edge of the bowl. This is purely anecdotal, rather than scientific, but I can almost chart the decline of her taste buds ('sweet' is one of the first tastes to fade, along with salty). When she first started eating grits again, two Splenda packets and a heaping tablespoon of butter was enough. The two Spendas became three, then four, and currently stands at five packets of Splenda (four if she wants less than a usual bowl full). My mom is lucky that she has good doctors who tell her that they'd rather see her eat whatever she wants, whatever she enjoys, rather than trying to eat "the right kinds of food." Maintaining some body fat makes getting sick easier to recover from; bone thin is not good, as the body has no reserves to draw on during illness. So, grits it is: five Splenda and a mass of butter.

A post shared by John Francis Nooney (@john_francis_nooney) on

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