February 22, 2014

Desserts and Books: When It's All Over Too Soon

My grandma mothered in the era when every night was a full meal: meat and potatoes, salad and dessert. She prepared a feast for her husband and three hungry sons - every night. And nothing from a box or a can.

I think, at least in part, she measured her daily worth by the presentation at the end of the day and whether or not the men in her life were satisfied and complimentary. Or at least satisfied.

Let's just take a moment for the women of her generation.

And I'll take a moment for you too, lady chefs and gentlemen cooks who still go to such great lengths on a daily basis. I'll take a moment while I'm putting mac 'n cheese in the microwave.

And I hope your family appreciates your meal tonight, because that's why I haven't cooked very much in the last three years: there isn't a blessed person in this house who wants anything made from scratch. So I've stopped bemoaning and started counting my blessings. Poptarts, anyone?

Holiday background image of all that remains of a delicious piec

I've heard stories about my grandma's desserts, how the family couldn't really win in the dessert department. If they didn't eat it, then she was disappointed to have fixed something they didn't like. But if they gobbled it down and there were no leftovers, then she was offended that all of her day's work was devoured so quickly. Washing the empty pie tins, she was known to grudgingly say, "Well, we'll see if I ever make that again."

I've thought of her many times in the last many days, as people have so graciously told me they devoured my book in one sitting. Or they stayed up all night to finish it. Or they are reading it again because it ended too quickly. Or they picked it up and couldn't put it down.

Oh, to submit my writing among those authors for whom we slow down as we see the ending pages draw few. Is there a greater compliment in the literature world?

A friend of mine asked me, "Does that bother you, that we finish it so fast? I almost feel bad telling you how quickly I breezed through it, because I know you've been working on it for two years!"

It's true. I have.

I've thought often of the movie makers who spend years creating our favorite movies, and we finish it in less than three hours - and that might not even be because we loved it, but because it's just how long the lights were out in the theater.

One reader told me that she started reading while she sat on the toilet.  Two hours later, her family had gone to bed and she had a red ring around her bottom from sitting there so long. (Oh, the things you're willing to tell me.)

Another loaded the dishwasher with one hand and held my book open with the other.

Yet another said she couldn't stop long enough to refill her own coffee cup. (Now this is some serious dedication, people.)

To have you read my book so quickly, to turn page after page and not watch the clock, oh my. I'm at a loss, really, to tell you what that does for my writing heart.

It makes me want to visit my grandma in her retro kitchen of yellows and browns, where she is wearing heels and a skirt and lipstick, while she stands at the sink rinsing those pie tins.  I want to come up behind her, put my cheek next to hers, hug her neck.

I want to say, "Hey, Grams? When it's all over too soon, it's a good thing. It means your work was delicious."

5 comments on “Desserts and Books: When It's All Over Too Soon”

  1. I do love reading a good book slowly. I hate knowing I am close to the end. Havent read yours yet because I am slowly reading a good one now. "Chasing God" by Angie Smith. As soon as I finish that one, I plan on diving (slowly) into yours. Cant wait. God bless.

  2. Yesterday I spent hours unbraiding my 11-year old daughter's hair in anticipation of having it braided again (by a professional!) that evening. I kept two hands on the hair, and two eyes on the Kindle beside me as I read your story. Meanwhile my under-the-weather husband was kindly playing Legos with our three boys and older daughter. I was right at that point in your story where you confronted Robb and later witnessed his change and tender patience with your sons, which meant that every time I looked from the book to the scene in front of me my eyes welled with tears and I thanked God for my blessings. Thank you for sharing your heart.

  3. Yep! And it means everyone will be clamoring for seconds. : ) I love, love, love that I welcomed a sunrise with your book in hand. I should have a section on a bookshelf for just such books that have earned that distinction....for they are special, indeed.

  4. I began your book during a sleepless night, from a toothache, backache and heavy grief-infected heart. I was lost in your life and pain. After Robb's funeral, I found tears on my face and soon sobs formed....for you. I put your book down and fell asleep with my tears.
    The following day, a beautiful sunny day, I began reading your book again. As you described your friends helping you as you shook in angst, and your isolation from a world that continued even as your life stopped......again, I cried. I got it. The realization that your life would never be the same; YOU would never be the same.
    I lost my very best friend, my mom. My husband knew that when he married me, he married US. She was the constant in my life through my missteps, illness, children, loss of my brother.....
    So, I am taking my time through your book, my dessert. THANK YOU. THANK YOU. You have touched my soul. I have never cried reading a book so excuse my surprise.

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