My Mom lives in complex continuing care at a local hospital. About a decade ago she needed to have a brain tumour removed and has called various hospitals home since then. The surgery took away much from my Mom, including her gag and cough reflex. This loss means not being able to eat food via her mouth.

Think about it: my Mom never gets to taste anything other than a bit of toothpaste. Though I feel close to this reality, I still can just not imagine.

My Mom is occasionally able to come over to our house, usually for visits that last an afternoon. She lives just a couple of blocks away from us, so she always keeps a close eye on the weather reports to see if riding in her wheelchair over will be possible vs. taking a special cab. This Saturday promised to be beautiful, so we decided it would be the day for our traditional Easter dinner of ham and scalloped potatoes.

Given that my Mom can’t eat, you might wonder why we would plan a feast that would coincide with her visit. The reason is twofold: my Mom loves to visit around a table and she loves to smell. I spent the morning cooking with this in mind. We affectionately call it creating an “aroma buffet”. Once we settle around the table I put together a plate of food that I then pass under my Mom’s nose. I always wonder if it just makes not being able to eat more difficult, but she always happily takes a deep breath.

They say that when you lose a sense the other senses are heightened. There is something incredibly moving about witnessing my Mom’s willingness to participate in meals in a different way now. I hope that her sense of smell somehow helps to compensate for her lack of taste, even if it is just a little. Though I can still take food into my mouth, I want to learn to deeply appreciate my nose. I don’t want to take being able to eat for granted.

Bring on the aroma buffets.

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