Skip to content

Life in Retirement: Maybe it’s a generational thing


I grew up in a home where cooking was predictable, unimaginative and meant to simply help everyone maintain their body weight. Mom didn’t waste too much time and energy on specialty dishes – and pasta was considered specialty, especially by my Irish father who only wanted meat and potatoes, potatoes, potatoes.

So there were Fish Fridays, which meant salmon bake or tuna casserole. This catholic tradition was the closet thing we came to eating something exotic, even though the seafood was from a tin. Saturdays meant Tomato soup and grilled cheese sandwiches for lunch and panfried steak for dinner. Sunday was bacon and egg brunches after church and roast beef for dinner. That left only four nights for dinner planning, which to her meant determining slightly different combinations of meat and potatoes.

Don’t get me wrong, everything was prepared with love and financed through hard work. It was just the same stuff over and over, served in plastic bowls and without any seasoning except sale and pepper. And dinner was on the table at 5:00 each night, except once each month when it was extended to 5:30 to accommodate Dad walking down to the corner barbershop for a trim after work.

There was always great camaraderie around that table, though, and usually a dinner guest or two would join us a few times each month. It wasn’t fancy, but it was welcoming and most often lighthearted. Mom might not have spent a lot of time fussing over food, but she also didn’t spend a lot of time feeling self conscious about it. She was cooking like women up and down the block were cooking – a practical, inexpensive approach.

She was excited to share her skills with the young wife of the fellow who ran the corner store when she arrived from China in the mid 60s. There were very few words able to be understood between them as Mom taught Teresa how to ‘cook Canadian’ on Tuesday nights, but there was lots of giggling. I’m sure there was also some confusion on Teresa’s part, since she was sent back to the store bearing such things as Angel Food Cake from a mix. Not sure how this qualifies as a quintessential Canadian dish, but Teresa had made a friend and probably felt happy as she walked past the barbershop windows to reach the door of her corner store in the little strip mall.

Maybe Mom was right – learning to cook Canadian wasn’t necessarily about the food. It was about community, laughter, sharing when you can, and being together. That’s enough to fill anyone up!

Visit Sandy’s website at

Byron Hackett

About the Author: Byron Hackett

Byron has been the sports reporter at the advocate since December of 2016. He likes to spend his time in cold hockey arenas accompanied by luke warm, watered down coffee.
Read more