Many years ago, a friend of mine shared a story by Kathleen Chesto.
“ ‘Our mother makes the best pancakes in the whole world.’
When I would visit friends and be served pancakes, I would respond by saying that my mom made the best pancakes in the whole world. It did little to endear me to their mothers.
As I grew older, I discovered that other people made excellent pancakes, some even better than my mom’s. It took years before I finally had the courage to suggest this to her. When I did mention that maybe other people’s pancakes were as good as hers, she simply smiled and said, “I know.”
“Then why”, I asked, have you been telling me all these years that my mother makes the best pancakes in the whole world?”
She responded with a question.
“What do you think of every time you eat pancakes?”
“I think of you.”
“As long as there are pancakes, you’ll remember me.”
My own mom made pancakes. I remember that I called them “crunchy” because the edges were always crisp from whatever grease she used to fry them. Mom always insisted that they weren’t crunchy, but that’s what I remember. Whenever I see pancakes, I think of these two stories. I see my mom in front of the stove, with the cast iron pan heating up, and the batter ready to pour. For years we used “Karo syrup” until our neighbours told us about “Aunt Jemima’s pancake syrup”. There was no going back after that.
My favourite pancake meal was Shrove Tuesday when we would have pancakes for supper and in the traditions of Newfoundland, that meant there would be tokens hidden in the pancakes.
I carried on the tradition when my own kids were small, and sometimes my mom would be there to make the pancakes. Some years we would go to church for a pancake supper and share that time with the community.
It’s the stories and traditions that we keep alive that connect us to the people who have gone before us. This year, I am feeling the loss of my mom even more than usual, but we’ll always have pancakes.