Nostalgia in times of need

It’s been a particularly hard weekend and last few days.  My dear Nan has been hospitalised for the last 8 weeks (after major life saving surgery), and while we knew she wasn’t going back to her home, we thought she may have made it to a nice wing in a rest home.  Instead she has been moved to the hospital wing of a rest home to spend the rest of her too few days.

The family and I packed ourselves in the car on Saturday and headed up to Wanganui to see her.  In my heart I was hoping for a good day, that she would recognise me, but in my mind I knew in all likelihood it wouldn’t be the case, and coming away I had a suspicion that it may be the last time that I would see her.  Poor Nan, at almost 90, she seems a shell of the strong, stubborn  loving, vibrant woman she was not that long ago.    All in all a very hard time.  I know the rest of the family are feeling it too.

Shoving the pain aside, it has left me feeling quite nostalgic.  I spent quite a number of hours over the last few days recalling memories of times past, and it lead me to the box of recipe books that I grabbed from her house a few months ago.  I was looking through Nan’s handwritten recipe book, a goldmine of treasures, evoking memories of baking with her, and coming home from school to smells wafting down the drive to meet me.  I came across a recipe that both Nan and Mum used to make for us often as kids, only it was slightly different.

Johnny Allsorts.  That’s what I knew them as.  Yummy buttery cookies with sultanas   The recipe I found in Nan’s book was slightly different.  It had dates and nuts in place of the sultanas   I wonder why Mum and Nan had made it differently for so many years?  Maybe it was an economics thing, I suspect that our budget didn’t extend to the extravagance of dates too often, and sultanas would have been a lot cheaper.  Maybe it was to pander to the needs of fussy child eaters 🙂  Who knows?!

In my need to feel close to Nan, I thought I’d bake something from her book, and why not something that I grew up with?  I was curious to try it in the original form.  So I did.  Johnny Allsorts for when I’m, out of sorts.  The smell was familiar and calming and had the desired effect, I felt slightly more centered, but slightly more saddened at the same time.  I know this feeling isn’t going to go away anytime soon, and I most certainly can’t bake one of Nan’s recipes every time I feel the loss, but it does go a long way towards calming the soul in preparation for the imminent moment that is going to come all too soon for my liking.

I’m sorry I’m not my normal upbeat self, I know things are going to get a bit worse before they get better.  But for the moment this is me.  Bear with me.

Thanks for reading


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