When I was a kid I didn’t like strawberries. I don’t know why. Maybe it’s that sometimes hours after you eat them you’ll still find one of those little seeds in your teeth. More likely it was because strawberries are ridiculously unpredictable. From the same little carton you could have as many sweet ones as you do tart ones. And there seems to be no real formula for predicting sweetness just by looking at them. I liked sweet strawberries, not tart ones.
Sometimes when I’d stay at my grandmother’s house overnight she’d open up one of those little rectangular frozen tins of strawberries that had been packed with sugar and we’d eat them when they were half thawed and half frozen. I’d eat the presweetened strawberries but I avoided the fresh ones at all costs.
My mom loved strawberries. She’d eat the fresh ones. Even crazier, she was the person in the house who would eat the pink stripe in the Neapolitan ice cream. I had literally been known to go into diva histrionics if strawberry ice cream was served to me with the chocolate. It just wasn’t going to happen.
Now I love strawberries. Really any kind of berries. Blackberries are my favorite. I don’t remember when I converted from berry hater to berry lover either. Like so many other transitions I’m sure it involved a protracted teenage apathy period. Mixed berries and greek yogurt are my weekday breakfast. I don’t like the yogurt much, but I love the berries.
My mom doesn’t remember that I had a strawberry change of heart. I feel like that’s a very mom thing to remember and to talk about. The fact is that as I lose more of my mom, I lose more of the strawberry moments. That’s one of the worst parts of the disease.
My brother has a wife that he can tell these things to and she remembers. That’s part of the spousal obligation…you become part of the other person’s permanent record. You remember the catalogue of their existence in details that a best friend doesn’t even need to remember. You remember stories about changing your mind about strawberries.
I hate that I am losing that person who remembers me as a picky eater. Who remembers it wasn’t just strawberries, it was [insert long list of foods I rolled my eyes at].
But I wrote it down now. Strawberries. And one day I’ll tell someone about my berry transformation and they will remember it. Because the little things matter.