My husband, Nivens, LOVES breakfast. We often ate breakfast for dinner, pancakes, eggs, juice—a full buffet. He also loves eating breakfast at Shoneys, sometimes just the two of us, sometimes with my family (my two sisters, their husbands, their kids, mom me). Actually, our first wedding is at Shoney’s, goofing off with the family, me, complete in a napkin veil. On every trip to his favorite eatery, he had another one of his favorites—apple pancakes. [Ick!] I am a basic eater. I don’t like my foods to touch, nor do I mix flavors. Fruit is to be eaten as fruit, not on top of, inside of, or mixed with anything else. Hand me an apple, I will eat it, put it on top of pancakes…not happening. I am a no butter, syrup only, kind of girl; butter pecan syrup, if I’m feeling adventurous.
Since his incarceration, my family and I have been to Shoney’s, several times. Despite an empty seat at the table, his place is always filled. I keep at least one picture of him with me at all times. Whenever we are all together at breakfast, I take out the picture, set it up on the table, and place a plate of apple pancakes in front of it. We all take turns “speaking” to him.
At the end of last month’s visit, as my mom said her goodbyes, I overhear her telling Nivens that his plate of apple pancakes is waiting. It’s my job to remember his likes but for my mom to remember is akin to saying “We miss you”. In that moment, I feel as warm and gooey as those glazed, slathered apples.
Whenever I have my version of pancakes, I think about the apple version and what it represents— a time when we were a complete family, when I didn’t have an empty seat beside me, when I didn’t have to speak for him, when our love was just sweet without the added bitter.
I look forward to breaking the fast of not having Nivens home. He lists a trip to Shoney’s on his upon-freedom-to-do list. This time a picture of him won’t be necessary because Nivens will be with us and we will be complete.
I want apple pancakes.
What is your husband’s favorite meal?
What is his favorite place to eat?