In the last few months, a change has been taking place in my life — a change so slow I have scarcely noticed it.
Last week I became aware of it with a rude awakening. I do hate those rude awakenings that seem to occur so frequently when one crosses over into a certain age group. I’m talking about the 80s.
A nice family outing jarred me into reality. My son Jeff and his girlfriend Tracy invited me to join with them and Tracy’s family in a nice meal at a local restaurant. I didn’t hesitate when I agreed to go with them.
The restaurant in question is one of those hidden jewels that locals treasure and visit whenever their stomachs are craving home cooking like Mama and Grandma used to turn out.
Along with collards, sweet potato casserole, barbecue and fried chicken, the special the restaurant is famous for is fried oysters.
Let me tell you, these oysters are fresh and cooked in a wonderful crunchy batter that explodes with delight when your teeth bite into a succulent taste of the sea inside. I love them.
This wonderful food is served in an all-you-can-eat buffet that ends with pans of banana pudding and peach cobbler.
I’m sure there must be a salad bar in the middle of the line, but I can’t swear to it.
Anyway, due to knees that don’t work as they should, my son walked the food line for me, bringing me a plate of oysters, fried chicken, green beans and corn. It was not a heaping plate, but what would be a starter plate for most buffet junkies. I fully intended to have seconds on the oysters.
Who on earth only eats one plate of food at an all-you-can-eat buffet loaded with goodies?
I started to ask Jeff to fetch me a few more oysters, but my tummy and my brain told me I had had enough to eat.
I sat and sipped on my sweet tea while the others made numerous trips back and forth to the bar, returning with plates loaded with seafood and barbecue.
I was halfway proud of my restraint and halfway sad because I realized my days of numerous trips to bountiful buffets are over.
It didn’t bother me too much— honestly — to watch the others go back for refills, and after a little resting time, I was able to enjoy a small bowl of peach cobbler. I’m only human.
The rude awakening I mentioned was realizing that things will never be the same for me at the annual Fox Family of Western North Carolina reunion nor at our family holiday gatherings.
All of these events are built around food — from large amounts of delicious food such as roast turkey, fried chicken, pork roast, wonderful vegetables and fresh salads, to one of our family favorites, large trays of stuffed jalapeno peppers wrapped in bacon.
No longer will I be able to work my way around the table two or three times in order to sample every dish and give praise to the cook who prepared each one.
I’ll leave that responsibility to the young ones.
Just make sure I get a jalapeno popper or two. I’ll be happy trading a large amount of food for a little bit of heat.