My husband, James, was a guru in his field. Having been instrumental in the development of the internet as we know it, he was in high demand for his skills and knowledge and either was employed by or did contract work for the majority — if not all — of the country’s top 100 companies.
As proud as I was of James and his talents, the demands of his career came at a cost, that cost being extensive travel and time away from home. Far too many times than I liked, I said “goodbye” to him as he ventured out on his way to the airport Sunday evening to return home late the following Friday night or even Saturday morning only to face the same routine again on Sunday.
As miserable as this made me, it was equally difficult for him because not only were our extended separations trying, but he suffered the effects of the physical demands that were part of the package. Bustling through an airport dragging along luggage and computer equipment with barely enough time to make it between gates to catch flights, little or complete lack of sleep, an unhealthy stream of mediocre restaurant meals, and bottom of the barrel rental cars left him cranky and disillusioned. But add the additional frustration of budget hotel accommodations required by the employers and he was ready to give it all up.
After nearly a decade of this torture he came home one weekend particularly frustrated, tired, and cranky. As we sat across from each other on the one night of the week he was home, he looked up at me and said, “After so many hours on the road and everything going wrong that can go wrong during every trip, the only time I consider any of this a “success” anymore is if I find out the hotel has sausage gravy on the breakfast buffet. At least that part of the trip was tolerable…”
When his doctor told him the travel had to stop due to health issues, he was happier than I had seen him in a long time. Although I knew he did not miss much from those travel ordeals, he was having “sausage gravy withdrawal”, so I started making it for him on a regular basis.
A “Yankee” boy, James was not wedded to biscuits with his sausage gravy. Like the “Dutchie” I turned him into, he loved it over toast points, English muffins, pan-fried, home fried, or mashed potatoes, even a toasted croissant. He would devour a batch of sausage gravy, both freshly made and reheated from left-overs. That is why I was taken aback when he did not have any of the last batch I made.
James had not been feeling well at all and was experiencing some odd symptoms. His appetite was off, but he usually had some enthusiasm for his favorites. Not this time. Two weeks later, his heart decided it had had enough and there would be no transplant journey as anticipated for the following month. He left this world unexpectedly but peacefully on January 24, 2021 and my world as I knew it collapsed
The silence is deafening
As I made this sausage gravy today in preparation for this post, something was missing. It wasn’t an ingredient, it was the enthusiasm for which he welcomed this meal. There was no Boston-tinged accent declaring “Oh, that smells good!” as he rounded the corner of the kitchen from the hallway. The feeling of him at my shoulder, reaching out with a spoon to “give it a taste” was glaringly absent.
They say time helps heal…I’m not sure there is enough time the way it feels right now. This one is for you, James. I miss you so much.
Sausage GravyCourse: breakfast, DinnerDifficulty: Easy
1 pound bulk pork breakfast sausage
3 cups milk
5 Tablespoons all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon Worcestershire sauce
1/2 teaspoon seasoned salt, or to taste
Hot sauce to taste
Ground black pepper to taste, freshly ground preferred
- Heat a large frying pan on medium-high heat. Place the sausage in the frying pan, break up into small pieces and fry until no longer pink. Do not drain fat from pan. Sprinkle 5 tablespoons flour over meat and fat in pan, stir and cook for 1 minute.
- Add milk gradually, stirring constantly until mixed in. Stir in remaining ingredients adjusting the seasoning salt, black pepper, and hot sauce to taste. Bring to a boil over medium-high heat stirring constantly. Allow to bubble while stirring frequently for 2 to 3 minutes.
- Serve over toast points, potatoes, biscuits, or as desired.
- Refrigerate left-overs. May need to add more milk when re-heating.