Hospital routine has no breakfast

Published 1:58pm Monday, September 27, 2010

A recent, unexpected and thankfully short stay in the new Vaughan hospital has given me cause to reflect upon memories of my childhood, notably the breakfasts that were requisite to begin our day always.

My father truly enjoyed breakfast, and it was no doubt at his request that our breakfast table always had a variety of choices for us. Bacon and eggs were standard, of course, but in several preparation methods.

We might have fried, over-easy, firm, scrambled or boiled eggs.

Sissy, Pat and I had one egg each, as did mother. But daddy received two in his choice.

On our warmed breakfast plates were, at times, crisp bacon or link sausage or patty sausage or slices of ham. On rare occasions, usually around Easter, we were offered salt mackerel filets which had been well soaked and cleaned before being fried crisply.

Always, we had glasses of orange juice, fresh-squeezed, cold milk and for our mother there was fragrant, steaming coffee. Our father always drank tea, filling his cup from the brown earthenware pot placed beside him.

Sometimes, the table held a basket of fresh-baked biscuits to be broken apart, buttered and eaten with Mother’s homemade fig preserves. And on rare occasions we opted for pancakes or waffles. I never recall having cinnamon rolls or other coffeecakes, although at times Sissy, Pat and I had cinnamon toast or French toast.

Breakfast remains one of my favorite meals, probably my choice of the three standard daily meals and has remained so even though at times I lived in another country or another part of this country. It was fun to adapt to their different foods and methods of preparation but it remained breakfast.

Back to the recent, surprise hospital stay. Although I was immediately placed on a liquid diet it was not a matter of concern. At the time I had little appetite so food was not of consequence. However, I must admit that during my first night there — a wakeful time due to the unfamiliar bed, unaccustomed sounds and frequent staff visits — I looked ahead to morning and a cup of coffee, perhaps even breakfast.

The sun came up, voices were heard in the hallway and soon, a staff person entered with a tray holding several containers. There was no coffee fragrance, but I am fond of hot tea, also.

The tray was placed across my lap, the top lifted from the large, central container to reveal a small bowl holding an unidentifiable liquid. I try to always be a good patient so I lifted the plastic spoon, dipped it into the almost colorless liquid and sipped from it.

A recent, unexpected and thankfully short stay at the new Vaughan hospital has given me cause to reflect upon the breakfasts of my childhood. I am certain they would never, ever have included salt-free, lukewarm chicken broth.

That being said, let me declare that the soft diet that followed with the next meals was well-prepared and tasty. And the hospital personnel certainly made my short and unexpected stay pleasant. My special thanks to Vickie Austin and Tom Glover, to Miriam Bearden who carried my surprise breakfast tray (a gift of my friend and physician Park Chittom), and to Virginia Hoskins, Debra Harris, Luella Shannon, Jennifer Hightower, Anetral King, Tamecka Sneed and Tona Oliver.

Selma is fortunate indeed to have the new Vaughan hospital and the staff who never enter your room without a smile and an offer to help. Thanks to all, even for the broth.

Jean Martin is editor emeritus of Life & Styles.

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