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Lori Borgman: Offering a toast to breakfast with Dad

There’s not a day I can remember as a kid when my dad didn’t make breakfast. Dad was a morning guy. From growing up on a farm, he was hard-wired to wake up with the chickens. Dad may have left the farm, but the farm never left him. I think he figured that if he couldn’t be up early and feed livestock, at least he could be up early and feed his family.

He’d bring in the morning paper (along with a firsthand report on the weather) and start the coffee. Then, as my brother and I appeared, he would offer to pop some bread into the toaster or pour cereal, maybe peel an orange or halve a grapefruit.

I thought that every kid grew up like this.

On cold winter days, he would say we needed something to stick to our ribs and have a pot of oatmeal or cream of wheat simmering on the stove. I wasn’t a girl who relished the picture of oats and grains sticking to my ribs, so I was a hard sell. But on the mornings that he sweetened the deal with raisins and brown sugar, I was game.

When we were out of milk, he would constitute powdered milk, pour it in a pitcher and say that it was just as good as the real thing. It wasn’t as good as the real thing; it was awful. And then he would drink some of the powdered milk to demonstrate how wonderful it was. He drank alone.

When Mom came out, he would pour two cups of coffee, and then they would both sit down at the table and divide the newspaper. For 10 minutes or so, we would all be around the same table.

I thought that every kid grew up like this.

My dad’s greatest gift to his kids was being there. Faithfully. Reliably. Every day. He wasn’t a big talker or flowery philosopher, but we knew what was expected. We also knew that whatever happened, we could count on him. He would be there for us, just as he would be in the kitchen every morning.

After Mom died and Dad got cancer, I would often go stay with him for a week or so at a time. I was now the first one awake, dressed and in the kitchen.

“What’ll it be this morning, Dad?”

“Oh, I’m not too hungry. How about some toast? Put some of that strawberry jam on it, would you?”

After toast and coffee, he would often say, “You know what sounds good? Maybe some scrambled eggs. See if we’ve got some sausage in there. Do we have any fruit?”

A little while later, “Would you mind making a little oatmeal?”

It was a pleasure and a privilege to be there in the mornings the same way Dad had been for us, day after day, year after year.

I don’t eat much in the mornings anymore, but breakfast will always be my favorite meal of the day.