February 5, 2020
One thing we could always count on at Granny and Papa McCaig’s house was home-cooked meals. They ate almost every meal around that modest kitchen table — Granny in the seat closest to the refrigerator and stove and Papa on the side with the best view of the backyard.
Dining out, going to restaurants, picking up to-go orders wasn’t really their thing.
But on occasion a reason to eat lunch out would surface, maybe a morning filled with doctor’s appointments or a special event a good distance away.
When those moments came, we never spent time thinking about where we would eat because we all knew the answer — KFC, or Kentucky Fried Chicken, in those days.
Papa didn’t like to eat out, but somewhere along the way he discovered KFC and enjoyed the two-piece dark meat meal — original recipe, of course.
We all knew not to attempt to convince him to try any of the other menu items (well, we learned that the hard way, but we eventually learned).
He found a meal that worked for him, and he was content. It would always be the meal he chose when eating out. Yes, he did enjoy the taste, but more than that he knew what to expect. He understood the system and knew how to order.
We learned quickly that forcing Papa to walk into an unfamiliar restaurant would cause him great anxiety because of the sheer volume of selections and the pressure to order quickly. If we knew no KFC existed where we were going, then we would plan to order for him.
But if we could get to a KFC, then that’s where we went because Papa helped us understand why it was important to him and why it mattered.
Because he mattered to us, we wanted the experience to be the best it could be for him.
My husband’s Granddaddy Stroupe also mattered to us but he wasn’t quite as forthcoming about a meal preference in one of our visits with him.
He enjoyed eating out and going to restaurants, so experiencing different tastes and selections didn’t bother him.
As he aged, however, the variety of foods allowed on his plate slimmed down and one of his favorite foods — pizza — was no longer an option.
Jason and I are pizza fans ourselves, and Granddaddy Stroupe knew this, so on one of our visits he devised a plan to send us out for pizza.
And, well, what was he to do if we came back with a pizza, right? He didn’t want to be rude. The only option would be to eat pizza that night. I mean, he wouldn’t have a choice, right?
However, he didn’t let us in on his plan, and we thought he was only requesting pizza for us. We didn’t realize how hard he had worked to get a taste of pizza — until we saw his disappointment when we brought back the same ol’ same ol’ he ate every day.
Yes, he needed to follow a strict eating plan most days, but a slice of pizza enjoyed with his grandchildren would have been a special moment for him, and special for us, too — if only he had been willing to tell us.