From the archives: A sweet taste at the end of a bittersweet journey
Texas oranges, frozen tears and a long goodbye to the shortest tallest man in the world.
Editor’s note: This year, I’m republishing some of my favorite posts from the first 10 years of The Feminist Kitchen, which started as a Wordpress blog in 2010. Only a few dozen of those 250+ posts will make it into the “new” version of TFK, but some of them are too near and dear to my heart to let vanish into the Internet ether. This post was originally published on March 19, 2019.
One of my dad’s last bites of real food was a slice of Texas orange.
It was mid-January, and he was days from death. For 18 months, he’d had a shorter-and-more-difficult-than-expected bout with prostate cancer that was coming to an end.
His energy levels varied so much during those last few months. Sometimes, he’d feel like sitting up and going through a semblance of a daily routine, but other days, he couldn’t leave the bed.
He hadn’t had an appetite while he was undergoing cancer treatments, but when he went into hospice care and stopped the chemotherapy, his appetite occasionally returned, sometimes voraciously. He’d eat two meals’ worth, even if he couldn’t keep it down later.
Cancer might have been what was killing his body, but nausea was killing his spirit.
As the number of good days dwindled, he was lucky to keep down a meal replacement shake, tomato soup or ice cream. Maybe a bite of cobbler if someone brought it over.
Just a few weeks after Christmas, it became clear that after all the goodbyes we’d made that fall, it was time for the real goodbye, so my sister and I joined my mom in Missouri.
Before I left Austin, I’d just received a produce delivery box that included a handful of Texas oranges from the Rio Grande Valley. January in Missouri is dark even without a looming death, so I packed the citrus from my sunny adopted home state, thinking the fruit might offer a small dose of cheer in the place that will forever be my hometown.