Rice pudding and the right place and time to help

Published 10:49am Friday, August 16, 2013

I remember reading somewhere (I think it was Shirley Maclaine’s, ‘Out On A Limb’) that “there are no accidents in life.”

Though should you rear-end someone and use this as your defense to your insurance company, you’ll probably find it unsuccessful. However, the orchestration of Providence often leaves me breathless.

My weekly lunch date is my elderly mother. Beginning in May we enjoy enticing excursions known as ‘car picnics.’ As mom is no longer steady on her pins, I fold her walker and stow it in the backseat, pack a surprise lunch and off we drive to her choice of scenic spots.

“Where shall we eat today, Mom?” I asked, helping her fasten her seatbelt, “Lake, river, pastoral or all of the above?”

“I think … lake.” she replied.

Always grateful to the Carolina landscape, offering so many lovely places within a few minutes drive, we wound our way to one of two local lakes, pulled right up the shore and let its tranquility spread itself before our eyes.

“Lake and mountains,” I murmured, pulling our sandwiches from a totebag. “Not bad, huh?”

“Beautiful,” Mom agreed.

“Wait ‘til you see the feast we have today!” I said. “Do you remember on Sunday I asked you what sort of sandwich you would like and you said ‘ham salad?’ Well, voila!”

“Lovely!” Mom smiled.

“And then,” I continued, reaching inside the tote once again, “you said you would love fresh strawberries? Ta daa!”

“Mmm.”

“But,” I replied slowly, for this was the moment I relished, “the best part was when I asked if you could have any dessert you wanted.” Before she could answer, I pulled out the small tub of rice pudding she had requested, dusted with cinnamon and the tub of what I had been dreaming of for exactly seven days, banana pudding, and presented them with an exaggerated flourish.

“Ooh,” she cooed. “Banana pudding!”

And promptly took it from my outstretched hand.

I hate rice pudding.

“I thought you wanted the rice pudding?” I asked, deflated. “I thought it reminded you of your childhood in England.”

“No, dear, you have it.”

“OK, no problem.” I said, lying stoutly. “I’ll have it. Gosh, I sure hope I have room for it after my sandwich and strawberries!”

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