Food is more than something to feed our belly’s and make us feel full. Since my brain injury, I have been cooking a lot more than I have in the past. It has been a form of therapy for me, and a way for me to create a bond with my father that I never had as a child. It has been a way for me to convey my love, my appreciation and my soul to the people I cook for as I serve them their meal.
In The Beginning
My father and I had a really rough relationship the moment I hit puberty. As with many fathers, once their daughter gets to the age where they are interested in boys and have the possibility of getting pregnant they unintentionally begin to make some distance. Not because they don’t love their daughter(s), but because they don’t know how to handle that their little girl is now becoming a woman. This may not be true for all men, but I know many who do this. My father was one of them. Although both my parents worked full time, my father also went to school at night, to advance his career. He played gigs on the weekends (that’s what a job as a musician is called) and he still taught full-time in a high school as a music teacher as well as put on shows with the kids and traveled everywhere with them to promote the power of music in schools. He was a very busy man and very passionate about music. However, this passion did not make for a very involved or engaged father in his daughters life. I need to acknowledge though, that he did try some days in his own way, “Come on Dee let’s wash the car together.”, it wasn’t exactly something a preteen girl wants to do on her weekend. Distance between us got further and further apart and eventually I began to feel like he just didn’t love me. Which manifested itself in various ways during those impressionable years.
Fast forward decades later, after having my own daughter, and my dad becoming a grandfather for the first time, I saw a side of him that was never shared with me growing up. He would actually play with her. He was engaged in her activities and would listen to her talk. Even now, the two of them have an amazing relationship where they (before Covid) would go out to lunch together and have long conversations together, thoroughly enjoying each others company. This makes my heart happy, but also a bit sad that the child in me never really got that kind of attention because it would have made an enormous difference in the choices and decisions I made as an adolescent and young woman. But for my child to have that kind of visible devotion is precious.
After The TBI
After my traumatic brain injury I slowly got into the kitchen. I couldn’t be left alone at first because I wasn’t stable, I couldn’t follow a recipe too easily and had trouble holding the measuring cups and spatula. But the first thing I made after my injury was a scrambled egg. We were living in Virginia at the time and my mother would come to help take care of me while my husband worked because he didn’t feel comfortable leaving me alone in the house to take care of myself and our daughter. I would cook for my mom and she would happily eat what I made telling me it was delicious. But we all know that most moms will say these things to their kids even if it tastes like crap because we love them and want to encourage their creativity and effort. So I didn’t believe her very much.
One time when my dad came with her to visit and by this time I had progressed to making quick bread. I was making a new loaf almost every week and getting creative by adding dill or raisins and cinnamon to the loaves. One morning I made scrambled eggs and shared my bread with my dad (who LOVES food by the way). I was so nervous about what he would say, but he absolutely gushed over the taste! It was the best feeling ever.
I cooked shrimp scampi later that week (a meal that I used to often throw together when I couldn’t think of what to make). My father gushed again! And I have to tell you, it was such a huge moment for me. The little girl in me felt validated and loved. And it came at a time when I was really and truly needing it. My dad even said that maybe it would be better if we were closer to home. Closer to them so they could be there for us more often. He told me that he missed having us so close to them. Tears came to my eyes and love surged in my heart. Love that the little kid in me that thought wasn't loved could feel completely.
Moving Back To Florida
We moved from Virginia back to Florida a few months after their visit so they could help us as I continued my healing journey. We had bought a new house and while we waited for the house to be built we lived with them for 7 months. In that time I cooked two times a week for the family, and sometimes it would be lunch or breakfast just for me and my dad. I would even cook yummy treats like cookies or cakes. Every time I cooked it was therapeutic for me. Not only did it help my brain, it helped with building muscle strength, coordination, organization, timing and so much more. But what really moved me was how it created a loving bond with my dad.
Food: The Language Of Love
Food is our language of love. This is the way it was with him and his grandmother I discovered. His favorite grandmother would cook for him when he was little and give him such TLC while he ate that food became how he received love. Being Italian I understand that. But then again, I believe many cultures also utilize food as a way to convey love and appreciation. Just look at how many people associate chocolate chip cookies. or secret family recipes, as love food. In my last blog post I wrote about the emotion of eating in terms of doing it mindlessly or mindfully. When I cook for my dad he tends to eat quickly and mindlessly. Which concerns me because I'm never sure what he is tasting and I'm concerned about him choking. So one day I gave him a small seafood fork. He began to slow down and really tasted the food I made for him. What was gushing before became a foodgasm with every meal now! And with every bite our bond and communication began to grow and forge a deeper and deeper channel of love and appreciation.
My relationship with my father now is much different than it was when I was younger.
We now have a bond that is similar to the bond I was slightly jealous of with my daughter. Many thing s in our lives have changed and events have altered who we both once were. But if the result is having this bond and relationship with him now is the price that had to be paid, then I regret nothing. I’m just glad that we both made it this far in life and had the opportunity to connect. Even if it was later rather than sooner. Too many people I know have fathers that passed long before they could resolve their relationship with them. So I am eternally grateful I have this opportunity now. I hope you get the same opportunity to bond and connect with a person important to you in your life as well.
Information contained within this site does not take the place of professional medical care. It is for educational purposes only and created with the intention of offering support and empowerment to women struggling to find wholistic and natural answers to their challenges. Every individual is responsible for their own actions, choices and behavior.