Within the passing of a November day, my doctor diagnosed an advanced case of endometriosis, and scheduled surgery the week before Christmas 1982. The following day, as mothers and grandmothers are prone to do, Mom called and said, “I’m coming to help you and Mel with the girls.”

Unaware of their Nana’s dread for the drive from Kentucky to Detroit in wintertime, my three cherubs jumped up and down singing, “Nana’s coming for Christmas! Nana’s coming for Christmas!”

Now, my mother raised five girls which over-qualified her for the task of feeding, clothing, and coping with the peculiar personalities and moods of her granddaughters.

Nonetheless, I washed and ironed their school clothes, grocery shopped for two weeks, filled the fridge, freezer, and pantry, and baked a batch of chocolate chip cookies with walnuts.

Finally, I pinned my last note on the corkboard by the wall phone: the hospital phone number, the girls’ teachers’ names, school phone number, neighbors’ names and phone numbers, name of my friend who would deliver my kindergartner to the door around noon, etc.

A salesman on the road Monday through Friday, my husband would not be available in the event of an emergency. Mind, in those days, he used pay phones for calls in certain areas within his east-to-west-side territory.

As if meeting our needs came naturally, my mother arrived at our door with a smile. My husband carried her suitcase upstairs where she chose to occupy one of the twin beds in the room our two younger daughters (not twins) shared.

I don’t remember why Mom declined the privacy of our twelve-year old’s bedroom. Regardless, I left my household in the best hands possible.

Post-surgery, the excruciating pain and prolonged, bizarre hospital experience seemed like a nightmare. I couldn’t wait to return home to the predictability and comfort of my family and queen-sized bed.

“Your mom made a big pot of hamburger soup with vegetables for dinner last night,” my husband said on our drive home from the hospital.

Now, my Southern mother was a Four Food Group cook: meat and beans, fruits and vegetables, dairy, and grains. So I asked, “Did she also bake a pone of cornbread?”

“Yes, and they both were delicious.”

To complete her four food groups, I wouldn’t be surprised if she also prepared her favorite banana pudding with vanilla wafers. I always kept bananas in the house for my three monkeys.

To my surprise, I found an almost bare refrigerator and freezer when I returned to my kitchen. Apparently, Nana cooked five days for seven mouths instead of five. And taking a good, long look at my husband across the table, I guessed he’d also consumed my share of hamburger soup and cornbread.

Dear Reader, although our three monkeys left home long ago, I simmered a big pot of hamburger soup yesterday, yet neglected to bake a pone of cornbread.

That I’ll do this afternoon: sustain Mom’s devotion to the four food groups, and her second of five daughters.

Contact Iris at irisfarmletters@gmail.com