Like Mom Used to Make

By 300 Sandwiches

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moms-turkey-sandwich-e1365952111210E and I went to the Midwest to see our respective families this weekend, he for a funeral, me to see my father who’s under the weather.

Both of us took trips down memory lane while at our parents’ homes, raiding their closets for vintage clothes, books and other goods. “I may come home with some china!” E texted. I found my high school freshman year yearbook stashed in the bedroom closet. There were so many mullets and hairsprayed bangs and curly perms. And on page 27, there was my unfortunately curly permed hairsprayed bangs that cascaded down the right side of my acne dotted face. Such an awkward year 1993 was!

The other thing that I got while home was Mom’s cooking. Aside from a vanilla cake with chocolate frosting, chicken with tomatoes and peppers and country ribs, Mom was in full on sandwich making mode.

When I arrived from the airport, mom asked my father and I if we were hungry. Dad told her exactly what he wanted—“turkey sandwich.” See, every man wants a turkey sandwich.

To watch my mother make a sandwich for dad was a learning lesson. She pulled out the wheat bread and turkey, along with lettuce, tomato and Miracle Whip lining up her ingredients like a doctor lines up tools for surgery. Then, she dove in.

I watched her as she spread the mayo on the bread and sliced up tomato and layered it on. She knew exactly how many layers of lettuce to stack on the bread and how much turkey meat would be acceptable for dad. She knew she didn’t have enough smoked turkey breast to make a meaty enough sandwich for him and layered on deli slices of turkey to fill out the sandwich. She knew not to toast the bread because dad likes the bread a bit chewy. Mom made the sandwich with confidence, like she’d been making dad’s turkey sandwich for years—36 to be exact—and knew exactly how he liked it.

It reminded me how timid I was to make E’s first turkey and swiss sandwich. It took me 10 minutes to decide whether or not to toast the bread. I worried if I’d used the right mustard and if he’d approve of my condiment-to-filling ratio. But he devoured it, and asked for 299 more. Since then, my confidence grew with each sandwich I made.

I hope after 36 years, I have the same swagger in making sandwiches as my mother.

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