Mama was in a particularly good mood yesterday. Routinely I had about to choke she was laughing so long and hard. We had a great visit. The point at which she was laughing the hardest? Buckwheat pancakes …
(Note: this is a condensed version of a longer story I wrote some time back and posted my blog, here: The Day of the Buckwheat Pancakes)
Riding home from church with my family as a little boy we always passed a Pancake House. My plaintive pleas never moved my parents to stop. In hindsight it is plain to see it was not my parents desire to leave me awash in near overwhelming desire, nor were they miserly with their love and gifts, it was their pocket book that pushed us past the Pancake House each week.
In our youth my brother and I spent a good portion of our summers on our grandparent’s farm. Near the end of my third grade school year and summer poised, as we made our way home from church one Sunday my parents promised that if I made no “D’s” report card, we would stop at the Pancake House on the first following Sunday. My summer at the farm that year was filled with exquisite anticipation of receiving a letter from my parents telling me I had no D’s.
Needless to say, my excitement was near fever pitch each time my brother and I rode to town with my grandparents. We passed the mailboxes both going to and coming from town and it was with a mix of hope and caution that my eyes soaked in their mailbox as we made our way to town. It was like Sunday mornings going past the Pancake House all over again! How could God, if there was a God, tease and tickle my soul so ruthlessly?
Finally the day came. All my hard work in school … yes, hard as is to believe for those who know me, I worked hard in school as a boy, especially that year … had paid off! No D’s!!! After my parents gathered us from the farm at the so distant end of summer. I had done it! Pancakes were to be mine!
The gray velour seats in my parents old black Chevrolet gave off puffs of dust as I beat them with excitement when at last that summer came to an end and, my parents, having already collected us from the farm, we were nearing the Pancake House as we made our way home from church. My feelings that day have stayed with me and I reminisce back them when I achieve some current modicum of success in my life. They say, “Success breeds success.”, and I believe them. The day of the buckwheat pancakes was the culmination of determined effort from a little boy who was now reaping the rewards.
Once in our seats, looking at the Pancake House menu brought no relief to my overexcited state of being! In my state of mind, reading through the variety of breakfast offerings was tedious. Not only were there too many varieties of pancakes on the menu, there were pictures of eggs, toast, fruits and such on the menu that were also very enticing. There was French toast! My God! My mother’s French toast was only outdone by her pancakes, which were the best. It was all overwhelming for this little boy.
Once my eyes caught Buckwheat Pancakes on the menu I knew they were what I wanted. I’d never had buckwheat pancakes but my childhood hero, Roy Rodgers, ate them. No doubt it was buckwheat pancakes for me.
Now I know what you are thinking, “Oh no! Not buckwheat pancakes!” Living in 2015, as you were if you are reading this, you know that buckwheat pancakes might be okay for some kind of health nut, but totally not suitable to a young boy in 1960. Who in their right mind would let a little boy order buckwheat pancakes? But let me they did.
When the buckwheat pancakes arrived it was all I could do to get butter and syrup on them before beginning to shovel them in my mouth! At my first bite I learned that reality may not always live up to expectations. They were terrible. I was crestfallen, and I’m sure began to cry.
My father, as was his wont, took pity on me. He took my buckwheat pancakes and gave me his “normal” ones. As with the first pancake out of the skillet, he sacrificed for his child. My father gave so much to me is so many ways, large and small. While his sacrifice to me that day played a small part in my mind at the time, in contrast to its exciting start it was what saved that day and allows it remain as one my favorites.
So ends the saga of the buckwheat pancakes. But days of that type are what formed the values and ideals that I carry as an adult. Such was the impact my father had on my life. He wanted me to be happy and was willing to make sacrifices to ensure it. In hindsight, his sacrifices were often and no less significant than on that day of the buckwheat pancakes.
My father is long dead but he lives on as residue in my heart and mind. May that residue be manifest in the love I give to my daughter, my Squid. Ever be her heart as filled with excitement and joy as was mine on the day of the buckwheat pancakes!
I hope you enjoyed that story. To finish this update, want to know the answer to last week’s clue? My sweet sister Martha Jan! We still use the recipe box she gave us as a matter of routine. The cornbread recipe card is so faded and stained probably only we know how to read it.