Love and Pancakes: A Definition of Faithful Love
The house number was 415 on 24th Street. A house where I learned about love. Maybe my own parents will be upset that the house on Circle Drive (my home) wasn’t the place I first remember love, but alas. The earliest childhood memories I have of feeling loved, important, and special come from the memories I have of the house on 24th Street. The house looked exactly like the other houses on that block. I know that for a fact because I took piano lessons from an old lady two houses down from my grandmother’s house. The layout was exactly the same. The hallway down the center with the living room on the left and the kitchen on the right. It was eerily familiar when I stepped into Mrs. Sargent’s house as a six-year-old and felt like I had stepped into the same exact house two doors down.
The atmosphere of Mrs. Sargent’s house was completely different and foreign to me. It was stiff. Smelling of leftover casserole and I promise I heard a ghost down the hallway one day while she wrote in my piano book. The unfamiliar picture in frames on the coffee table did nothing to quiet this feel of intrusion when I stepped into the living room once a week for half hour.
The house at 415 was not creepy or cold, it was warm, soft, and inviting. The golden butteries moved from wall to wall over the years, but never were put away. The pictures on the right above the T.V., as you enter the living room, held memories which weren’t mine. Great-Grandmothers, Great-Grandfathers, aunts, and uncles and cousins to distant to know. The chair was always opposite the pictures. So she could sit and look at the people she loved (and lost).
The house where I felt loved had a lovely porch with a yard just the right size. The porch hosted a glider swing with various shades of rust white/gray metal. Over the years the cushions changed, but little else changed about that porch. The hanging flowers in the corner brightened the black metal gate surrounding the porch.
The house wasn’t a house. It was a home; a home for many, many years. A home which had seen laughter and tears. A home that had seen hugs and arguing. For me, it was the home if I ever ran away, I would run to this one. The earliest memory I have of this home is eating pancakes in the kitchen with my brother. Maybe I was six, or five. I can’t remember because she made us pancakes for most of my childhood. They were razor thin. So thin, I wondered how she did it every single time.
Not until I began making pancakes for my brood of children did I realize the thinner the batter the further it goes and the thinner the pancakes. With four children of her own and being the youngest of nine, I’m sure my grandmother knew how to make pancake batter to feed a crowd. The pancakes were fried in butter. I remember that because they tasted so much better than my mom’s. (Shhhh, don’t tell her I said that!). The syrup was the good kind (not the cheap kind) and I always got to use a real, glass plate. My grandmother had time now to do the dishes.
Love is not just pancakes. Love was the way she served them. Faithful. Constant. Predictable. Love was the way she felt soft when we would hug her. Love was the way she let us run around her house and be really loud, never telling us to be quiet. Love was having Klondike bars and orange creamsicles in the freezer. Her love was a quiet, always sweet, always wise, never fake, and always, always involved eating on in the kitchen (never the living room). Let’s be honest. She had to have her boundaries.
Her birthday is next month. It has been almost eight years since I last touched her hand and said goodbye. Her faithfulness was predictable as those pancakes. Her faith in a God who loved her was as warm as the first bit off the griddle. The house on 24th street is the house I learned about faithful love. The kind of love which didn’t hold grudges. The love that knew when to talk and when not to talk.
She had this gift of smiling with her eyes. Even when she disagreed with you, you didn’t feel less loved. You felt accepted – even if she thought you were wrong. It might have taken her the entire 77 years she was alive to learn how to love that way. As a new momma, I’m sure she made lots of mistakes. As a sister, daughter, aunt, and mother-in-law she learned how to love over the years. A faithful, solid love. With a firm hug she would send me on my way, giggle at the way I always talked. Stroke my hair as I walked out her door.
Love and pancakes. Let’s all be honest with ourselves. Food and love go hand-in-hand. So. What foods make you think of love this season? What stories come to mind? Share it below. I’d love to know.
God’s love, as we’ve seen in Psalm 136, repeated twenty-six times, is steadfast and endures forever. My grandmother passed away seven years ago. I believe she still loves me from Heaven, but she cannot make me pancakes. She cannot love me like the God of love. What comfort in knowing, even when people leave – God still loves us. Amen.