My Wings for Mom’s Sweets

(by Nancy E. Gertz)



“Do I look fat, honey? Tell me.” This, only weeks before my mother died.


“Can you tell I lost weight?” This, only one day after starting a new diet.


“Guess how much I weigh.” This, when I’d see her after a longer interval.


“It’s the same old 156!” This, when a daughter didn’t know that it was unusual to get the daily scale report from her mother.


“Mom, I think it’s past time to be worrying about your weight. You’re 85 years old. If not now, when will you just eat whatever you want?”


“Oh, I don’t know,” she sighed.


We had a thing going for a while, back when I was 16 with my new driver’s license.


“Mom, can I take the car to go to Maggie’s house tonight?”


“Yes, as long as you stop on the way home.”


“Okay. Sundae or ice cream soda?”


And that was our trade. My wings for her sweets. Most of the time, using her most dramatic in-the-movies voice with her lips slowly curling around the words, Mom ordered up a hot fudge sundae with marshmallow and wet nuts. Once in a while, she wanted an ice cream soda, with coffee ice cream and chocolate syrup. I delivered the goods to her, carefully, tenderly, knowing how hard it had been for her to wait until I got home. She groaned with pleasure as she slowly pulled the virgin spoonful out of her mouth. Next, she fell backwards, each taste sending her deeper into the soft pillows on the back of the family room couch. There are so many sounds a body can make when it is that happy. I didn’t know much about good sex back then, but if I had, I’d have realized that those sundaes were her sure-thing lovers.


It took about five heaping mouthfuls before her happy hums steadied to a peaced-out purr. Soon after that, she’d put the cup aside, having had enough, and that’s when she’d toss a quick smile of gratitude in my direction. I was her pimp, and I’ll be honest, it felt good to see her grinning and smacking, licking her lips. She was just so smitten, content even, maybe for the first time all day. It was only the next morning that she’d think differently about her luscious liaison and I’d feel a little guilty about aiding and abetting.


I was never sure if it was a good idea for me to ask for the car, but I kept doing it anyway.

(Mom was a comedienne and singer; here she is in one of her stage dresses.)

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Nancy E. Gertz is a personal coach, writer, and teacher living in the Boston, Massachusetts, area. One of these days she’ll put all her published pieces in one place on the interwebs. Meantime, she can be found at nancy.gertz@gmail.com and on LinkedIn.

Wet Walnuts

(adapted from La Casa de Sweets)


1 c. honey (or corn syrup)

1/4 c. maple syrup

2 t. vanilla extract

1 T. lemon juice

1 T. brown sugar

pinch of ground ginger

pinch of ground cinnamon

2 c. chopped walnuts


Whisk all ingredients except the walnuts in a medium saucepan until combined.

Bring to a boil over medium-high heat.

Once the syrup reaches a boil, stir in the walnuts, and cook for 4 minutes, stirring occasionally.

Cool slightly, then transfer to a glass container.

Refrigerate overnight.

Serve over ice cream.