Of Casseroles And Compassion

All sorrows are less with bread. ~Miguel de Cervantes, Don Quixote

Homemade bread and soup 008


We did not cook for six weeks. We were fed casseroles and compassion.   During my father’s illness we were fed by friends, relatives, mere acquaintances, and total strangers. We were fed physically, emotionally, and spiritually. Even the timing of these gifts was in tune. We received what we needed when needed whether it was a meal, a hug, a prayer, or a simple conversation. We had some people who did all of those things and did them multiple times. These were meals and moments born of love.

We went out for breakfast one morning to a local diner after my father’s death. This was an establishment my parents have frequented for years. The owner came by our table to offer her condolences. She added that our meal was on the house. How often do you have that happen?

Through the years I’ve watched my mother cook meals for others in times of need. Now, I do the same. It makes me feel good to help others in some way. Having been on the receiving end of such love and kindness is a feeling I can’t quite express. It’s probably one most people don’t even realize how much it means to the recipient until they’ve been put in a position to be the receiver.

There is much to be said about the power of community. The heart of every family and every community is love. The one thing people in the south do most to show their love is cook for you.  I can’t think of a better way. The love is tasted in every bite, warms your soul, and eases your heart. It brings people together on an intimate level.

There is nothing more enjoyable than breaking bread with a friend. If you aren’t my friend, you will be by the time we finish breaking bread together. Add a glass of wine to that, and we’ll be friends forever!

Spin Cycle: Cooking With Love

38 thoughts on “Of Casseroles And Compassion

  1. So beautifully expressed, Suzi!

    Reading this brought back so many memories for me of last Nov. when my mother passed, and how everyone fed my brother and I, physically, emotionally, and spiritually as well. The outreach was beyond touching.

    ” It’s probably one most people don’t even realize how much it means to the recipient until they’ve been put in a position to be the receiver.”

    You said it, my friend.

    (((((( You ))))))

    Thank you so much for sharing this….X

  2. I had the same experience when my father died, all of Mama’s friends came bearing casseroles and jello and hams. It’s funny that we never realize how much it means and how embracing and truly comforting those casseroles are until we end up on the receiving end.

    Thanks for linking to The Spin Cycle!

  3. I am so happy that you and your family had such a lovely support system at the time of your grief. When my next door neighbor Fred died, I immediately called a local restaurant and arranged for them to cater in lunch for the people who were gathering at Fred’s house. I thought it was just a small gesture, but I know they appreciated it. (I did make a big lasagna casserole for them the day after.)

  4. Suzi, I’m so sorry for the loss of your dad. But I’m happy to hear you found comfort in the cooked-with-love offerings from friends. This reminds me of when my dad passed and how good some of our neighbors were, bringing casseroles, ham, etc. The last thing you feel like doing at a time like this is cooking. Or cleaning. Your mom was wise to serve up such a good example!

  5. Yep, when my Dad died we had so much food, we ended up donating a lot of it to a soup kitchen in Chicago – they were so thankful to receive it, just as we were to receive it, but there’s only so much food you can eat!

    Lovely that they took care of your breakfast, that doesn’t happen nowadays!

  6. You’re so right, it is quite different on the receiving end. What a blessing. Did you and Chris have pizza and beer? That always warms my heart to think of her fondness for that.

    • No, we didn’t due to two problems, but I did get to spend a few hours visiting with her and cut her hair for her. First, I didn’t have any beer and second, shen I stopped to order pizza from our favorite place it had closed down! We’ll try a new place when she feels like going out.

  7. “The love is tasted in every bite” – a friend of mine has said the difference between eating a home made cake and a store bought one is the love in every bite and I’m sure she would agree it applies to casseroles and bread too.

  8. What a wonderful community! I have lived in similar communities, and have received many meals during certain difficult times in my life. I try to do the same for others when I get the chance! This summer I made beef stew for my neighbor who had complications due to an unexpected surgery.

    • Community is a great thing. Sometimes it comes with the neighborhood, other times the office or church…it’s wherever we find ourselves placed…at any rate, it’s a wonderful thing!

  9. We recently had the opportunity to cook for someone. (He’d taken a nasty tumble down the stairs and was out of work for a few weeks.) It’s a win-win…the person in need gets nourishing encouragement and the person helping gets lifted up as well. I’m glad you were surrounded by such loving friends!

  10. There is something very comforting about the smell of bread. It’s one of the most wonderful smells in the world. And to have it combined with the compassion of a community reinforces the sweetness of life. So happy you connected with that wonderful feeling during that difficult time.

  11. When my mother-in-law died there was so much food, it was amazing. We were in Georgia and they kept bringing it. Every night there was at least three different “dinners” to choose from. And then breakfasts in the morning. Always someone stopping by to give a hug and share a story. It is a very wonderful thing to just have your needs met because the fog that descends sometimes keeps you from thinking about the things you need. I am glad that you and your family had the love and support you needed at your time of loss.

  12. It was a labor of love to cook that last meal your daddy requested. I loved him so much. It broke my heart when your mom said he ate his cream puff the next day. I knew that I would never be able to cook for Pete again. The world is not a better place without him. Love Dwight

    • No, it’s not a better place without him…but it is a better place because of you. You can taste the love in everything you cook…we are blessed to have you as part of our family.

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