Not to panic. This is not Covid. And hopefully with the help of a good specialist this problem will have a resolution. In the meantime, my favourite flavour is cold. This I can discern. Hence my tendency toward ice cream.
I miss these two senses a lot. I feel disarmed without them. There are so many instances where I would have used my sense of taste or smell to guide me and I find myself less confident without them. I cook familiar recipes because I can’t figure out if a new one tastes good enough to serve. I double check that I’ve turned off things, and I set a timer when things are cooking because even smoke from this summer’s forest fires did not register with me. It’s a small inconvenience compared to what many have to endure, yet I miss it just the same.
So many of our memories and feelings are connected to familiar tastes and smells; the smell of Fall, the taste of Christmas dinner, the smell of our grandmother’s house. One of our son’s friends told me recently he remembered me ‘always’ making Sloppy Joes when he came over to play with Greg. I had no recollection of this. Sloppy Joes are not in my repertoire of things to cook, and yet, I must have made them a couple of times many years ago, for two hard-playing, fort-building boys. He told me when he smells them, he thinks of the times he spent at our home.
A few weeks ago, I spent part of an afternoon with some of my favourite young women. These girls and I go back a long way; back to the very early days of the creation of our project in Africa. They were barely teenagers then, yet they propelled our project forward better than most adults could have. Now accomplished adults, they continue to feel drawn to the project. Their current contribution is finding ways to connect with the young girls in the school we founded, and to encourage them in self-confidence, in education, in celebrating being female, and in seeking opportunities that will lead them to the fulfillment of their dreams.
When we meet, we always spend a bit of time catching up on each others lives. One of the girls was telling us about recent developments in her family. Her parents, empty-nesters, decided to adopt a child. About a year ago, they adopted a little boy, who is now about seven or eight years old. Suffice it to say, that young boy, like so many children in foster care, did not arrive at their home by way of the Highway of Ease. They have spent a challenging year trying to win his trust, helping figure out and resolve some of his challenges, and remaining steadfast in their love, even as he regularly tests their commitment. The girl sharing the story told us of the following scene that unfolded at their dinner table one night.
The mother had made rice pudding for dessert. It was the first time she had made it since the young boy had been adopted. No one thought anything of it. The little boy tasted it and burst into tears. The mom, surprised, wondered what was wrong, and she asked the little boy if he could tell her.
He asked, ‘What is this?’
‘Rice pudding’, she replied, unable to imagine how it was causing his anguish.
‘This smells like my grandma’, he said. ‘I’ve been searching my whole life for this smell.’
It turns out, his grandmother, who he was once close to, used to make rice pudding for him. He had been missing this taste. The taste of her love.
I’ve had this story on my mind regularly since the day we sat on our deck and heard it. I had tears in my eyes then, as I do often when I think of it. Most of us will never know this little boy’s longing for the taste of love. Most of us, are fortunate to have bits of our history available to us. Most of us taste love regularly.
In this time of the Covid pandemic, each of us needs just a bit more taste of love, and each of us has the capacity to provide it for others. It does not need to be in the form of food. These days, in my world, food cannot give me the taste of love. I get my tastes of love from walks in the mountains with friends, from smiles and phone calls, from texts from my sisters and brothers, from visits with our children, from Zoom dancing lessons and book club, from outdoor picnics, and from secret handshakes with Ben.
It doesn’t take much to create the taste of love. I hope your upcoming week is filled with its flavour.
My inquiry for you this week is, ‘What taste of love can I give?’
Elizabeth is a certified professional Leadership Coach, and the owner of Critchley Coaching. She is the founder and president of the Canadian charity, RDL Building Hope Society. She works with corporations, non-profits and the public sector, providing leadership coaching. She creates and facilitates custom workshops for all sizes of groups. She has particular expertise in facilitating Strategic Plans for organizations. Contact Elizabeth to learn how to add the taste of love to your life and work.