Saturday, August 2, 2008

Casseroles

The Navy is not an easy life and many Navy juniors hated the constant moving, adjusting to new places, learning the ropes at each successive school and making new friends. Certainly understandable, but I was just the opposite.

I loved the supportive network of the Navy, the wives arriving with casseroles as soon as we moved to a new duty station and the offers to take us kids off to the pool or the playground to make new friends quickly while Mom settled the house and signed us up at the new bank and the new school district. While I was initially shy, I made friends in each new place and, because everyone was in the same boat, it just seemed normal to me to move every two years or so. Seventh grade, when I was in three different schools in the same year,
was difficult, but mostly I did pretty well.

Later, as a young Navy wife, I experienced the loneliness of a six-month deployment;
that first year, my brand new husband missed Thanksgiving, Christmas, my birthday and our anniversary. But, once again, all the wives and families were having the same troubles, so it was shared. The wardroom wives closed in around me in a friendly circle, inviting me to pot luck dinners and hen parties when I wasn't working and, once again, the casseroles came out to comfort and support. Letters and very rare phone calls from the husbands buoyed our spirits and the day the boat came home was a joyous one that I will never forget.

After my Dad's funeral, complete with military honors and a twenty-one gun salute, the casseroles arrived again, tightly wrapped in plastic with little cards from the donors to tell us how hot and how long to reheat them. When my sorrow was too great to even face the casserole bringers, still their warmth came to me through their cooking.

What is it about a casserole that is so comforting? They are usually bland and often overcooked, not really very tasty, but in times of sadness or stress, they bring a message of caring. A casserole is considerate food, offering a reasonable balance of food groups in a single dish that is easy to prepare when the spirit is low but the stomach growls anyway. It slides down easily, even past the lump in your throat when you are a little afraid of the new teacher, or you are missing your young husband, or your beloved father has just passed away.

Navy life can be hard but casseroles act as a cushion.

*Photograph thanks to
recipes.howstuffworks.com/chicken-casseroles.htm




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5 Comments:

Blogger katiez said...

Much the same in small town life... If a neighbor was ill, injured, death in the family, the first thing my mother did was make a casserole (hot dish, actually).
What an interesting life you must have had as a Navy 'brat'! I think it sounds like fun - at least, parts of it...

Saturday, August 02, 2008  
Blogger namastenancy said...

I think that "Navy brat" speaks to "Navy Brat" on an unconscious level. Last Saturday, I went with a group of new friends to see the "Birth of the Cool" exhibit at the Oakland Museum. I liked all of the guys but I especially liked one and we never stopped chatting. It turns out that we are both Navy and, in fact, had lived in many of the same places. It must be the casseroles!

Saturday, August 02, 2008  
Blogger Honolulu Daily Photo said...

When my dad passed away, a friend brought a casserole. It was my Dad's favorite. I cried and laughed at the same time, since no one but Dad like that casserole. The friend new this, but still had to bring... in memory.

Saturday, August 02, 2008  
Blogger dancingmorganmouse said...

When someone makes a casserole for you, it's a wordless "I love you" and a hug without arms.

Saturday, August 02, 2008  
Blogger Zoomie said...

KatieZ, I do feel lucky to have been raised in so many different places and cultures.

Nancy, don't you love it when that happens - instant connection with someone! I'll look forward to hearing more about it on Tuesday.

HDP, that little story brought tears to my eyes - what a sweet tribute and yet how painful for you!

Morgan, you summed it up perfectly.

Sunday, August 03, 2008  

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