Strawberry Jam Forever
When the vanload of strawberries for Hayley arrived, all I could think of was olives – cases and cases arriving at the Bistro. A continuing joke, with olives popping up everywhere there was a Platt. Please, oh please, this can’t happen with the strawberries. The out-of-season berries are the only food Hayley has been able to eat. But they are unavailable. Possibly Hayley’s appetite for them has gone as well. But finding strawberries becomes a mission, a way of doing something for Hayley. For her friends and Roy, it’s a way to take action and thereby maybe stave off her death.
But I feared her seeing those piled-up crates of strawberries, filling up the café. What would that do to her? Knowing the effort, time and money they had spent to show her they care. How can she reciprocate other than by eating her way through them? She saw them: I expected to see her throw up.
How is this going to end? Are we going to have flats of strawberries appearing at Hayley’s funeral? Will a moldy, rotting pint of berries appear on a café windowsill weeks from now? Please make them go away! But don’t let them be wasted. That alone would kill Hayley, watching good food go to waste. Take them to the soup kitchen! Where’s helpful-Hannah Sophie when you need her?
And there’s Emily Bishop. She sees lights on in the kitchen and comes to the door. It’s a strawberry party. Smoothies, daiquiris – anything and everything in which strawberries can be used. She suggests jam. Of course, and what a wonderful idea. So Mrs. Bishop oversees Fiz, Jenna, Kirk, Roy, Carla and whoever else is there in a production line of boiling and bottling. Mary comes in with jars, her mother’s prize-winning preserves recipe and a whole lot of attitude. Emily makes room for her at the stove. She also tries to keep Carla occupied so her culinary ineptitude doesn’t endanger the actual cooking.
They had a great time. Hayley came down to see what the noise was about. Her doing so covered the bases, addressed my concerns. She saw her friends having fun and doing something useful – all due to their love for her. Mary turned it into a competition, of course, and asked Hayley to judge the winner between jam and preserves. I recall her doing this before, asking Hayley to choose in a cook-off that Mary spontaneously created. This time, as in the past, Hayley declared it a tie. Still, it’s a refreshing indicator of Mary’s acceptance of the vagaries of life (and maybe her self-absorption) to not let the spectre of death stop her from putting someone on the spot. Hayley probably appreciated being treated normally.