Monday, October 3, 2016

Fashion sense

    This is an occasional blog of social and political commentary.  “Social”  and “political” are broad terms, while “commentary” walks a fine line between analysis and self indulgence. Why not embrace the peril? When this blog was in its earliest stages, my mother passed away. The eulogy which follows may seem an indulgence, but it has serious social and political implications as well.
     A few years ago I ended a two decade quest  to find Caesar’s salad  equal to my mother’s. On business trips around the country I patronized many  fancy restaurants, and if Caesar’s was on the menu, it was soon  on my plate. Given that this is a eulogy to my mother, you can probably guess I’m going to tell  you  my quest was unsuccessful. In fact, I never found any that even  came close, but the point is not that Mom’s  Caesar’s salad was exceptional, but rather  that  I’m sure she would have abandoned the quest long before I did. After several  years, no worthy challengers, and a restaurant industry that shunned raw eggs, she would have concluded  that, obviously, a rival did not exist. Mom believed truth lies on the surface, readily apparent to any one choosing sight, rather than blindness. 
     In the late 1950’s and early 1960’s, Mom made 5 visits to the maternity ward at Bon Secours Hospital, and she didn’t like what she saw. Very few of the other mothers were breastfeeding. It seems absurd now, but the medical fashion of the time promoted baby formula as superior to breast milk. Mom wasn’t buying it, and so began her distrust of the medical establishment.  In later years that distrust would manifest  in her opposition to  birth control and  abortion, but back in the fifties, it merely reflected her world view. Truth lies on the surface.  Common sense says breast milk, God’s provision for newborns, must be best.  To think otherwise is arrogant and delusional.
     Mom was right about breastfeeding, of course, and by the time she returned to Bon Secours a decade later for her sixth and final child, the new fashion in  medicine had begun to acknowledge it.  Mom, constant and immutable, had no use for fashion, and sadly could take no solace in her vindication, as by then abortion was legal, and she regarded the world as having taken one step forward, and countless steps backward. More than forty  years later, not much has changed.
     I told my mother many times her Caesar’s salad was the best, but I don’t think I ever mentioned the quest. Had I done so, I suspect she would have responded simply, “Gee Joe, why don’t you just make it yourself? I’ll  share my recipe”.  Such an obvious solution.  Mom was right. Truth does lie on the surface.