Monday, February 13, 2006

A tribute

Ruth Marcus lost 80 pounds at age 69.

Having fought the battle of weight since she was a teen, my mother knew more about fat grams and calories than nine nations of nutritionists. Indelibly imprinted in her gray matter was every food fact label on Earth. She could – and would - fill eight hours of a ten-hour road trip reciting from memory the fat and fiber content of countless foods – some I didn’t even know existed. (The other two hours were reserved for finding restaurants.)

With the kind of grief that makes it difficult to breathe, I began the process of emptying her car’s trunk after she died. I removed a self-made earthquake preparedness kit inhabiting a brown cardboard box. Neatly arranged were all the appropriate post-disaster supplies: batteries, bottled water, and canned food (of course). Buried under a brown tarp next to the butane lighter, was a plastic four-sided object. Slipping the item from its repository, I recognized it as a portable food scale for dedicated dieters when one is not near a kitchen.

A bittersweet smile found its way through my tears as I pictured the thought process that would have led her to include this particular article among the most important items one would need post-apocalypse. Did she foresee California leveled by a 10.4 shaker; survivors huddled under tattered blankets among the collapsed ruins? As they warmed themselves by campfires - hoards of starving, grimy individuals scrounging for food - one lucky survivor discovers a package of crumbled, tired saltines among the remains of a mini-mart. My mother, always the helpful dieter, would whip out her portable scale announcing, “If you’re worried about putting on a few pounds, I can measure out the correct portion size for you.”

Last week was the anniversary of her leaving this world - a hole in my life still unfilled. Yet, I can picture her in the afterlife, even now watching over me with ever-smiling eyes. As angels serve cakes, wines, and heavenly treats, I see her politely raising her hand, smiling warmly, and replying, “No thank you. I’m watching my weight.”

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