Food For Bereavement And A Tribute To My Dad

Missy Tippens

In the south, we feed people when they're grieving. I imagine it's the same everywhere.

This past Monday, we had the memorial service for my father.

This is how I like to remember him before he got so frail.

And I love this one. So young and handsome. My middle son looks a lot like him--I see it in the squint of his eyes and in the smile and also hear my dad in my son's quiet voice.

The grief is still fresh, and it hits in waves. But the old photos are a balm. They remind me of the days when he joked and laughed and cooked for us (biscuits and sausage gravy, spaghetti, chili). He always had a servant's heart. Worked tirelessly in the background on so many projects in the church and community. And when he cooked for us, he insisted on making our plates and brought the food to each of us. He never would let us wait on ourselves or on him. Even when he got older and frail, he didn't want me to make his plate, he had to jump in to help (requiring a nearby chair for resting during the process).

After the memorial service, the church provided a meal for our family and closest friends. (Thank you to the wonderful Congregational Care food committee!) I wish I had taken photos. I thought of it, but also had a house full of folks. So you'll just get to hear about the wonderful spread...

Honeybaked ham
Gourmet potatoes (cubed potato and cheese casserole with cornflakes on top)
Green bean casserole
7 layer salad (lettuce, peas, green onions, mayo, bacon, cheddar and...can't remember the 7th layer!)
Orzo salad (pasta, green and red peppers, asparagus, cucumber, red onion, feta cheese, all in a wonderful dressing)
Squash casserole
My kids' all time favorite: deviled eggs.
Several desserts

We had chocolate trifle (or maybe you call it Chocolate Delight), lemon bundt cake, and a gingerbread peach desert (with cake and whipped cream). My daughter-in-law also made an olive oil and orange cake that was delicious!

I appreciated the meal more than I can say. I was able to have all the family gather and not worry a bit about feeding them. We were able to spend time at the table remembering my kind, generous father. I think I inherited my love of food and cooking from him. And I hope I can carry on the tradition of loving others by feeding them. I already make biscuits and sausage gravy every Christmas morning in his honor. Only, this year, it'll be in his memory. That will be tough, but it'll be a nice way to remember the man who loved us so well.