I just got back from spending a week with my mom in Montgomery Alabama, where she now lives with my cousin, Gwen. Mom’s death is not imminent, but since she is no longer seeking treatment to prolong her life, she is on hospice.

Like my late father, Mom has always enjoyed eating, with a wonderfully curvy shape to prove it. Ever since she started chemotherapy treatments nine years ago, her taste buds have been affected. So much of what she eats doesn’t taste good. When she dropped below a hundred pounds a few months ago, the doctor prescribed an appetite stimulant, which has helped.

While it made me sad watching her crawl back into bed every chance she got (she says, “The bed’s calling me.”), I delighted in watching her eat. We celebrated her eighty-ninth birthday with all of her favorites—shrimp cocktail, thick filet mignons with sautéed mushrooms, steam-sautéed asparagus, foil-wrapped potatoes and onions, and garlic toast—and Sharon baked her famous carrot cake with cream cheese frosting. When Mom ate all of her mushrooms and asparagus and then started forking leftovers from our plates, we cheered her on.

As I was getting Mom ready for bed that night she said she that if only I could stay with her she might get back to where she used to be. If I thought it were true, I’d move in.

When I got back home yesterday I had a sudden urge to cook. I baked cookies, set out a pitcher of tea bags and water for the sun. I made a pot of soup too—cream of broccoli, one of Mom’s new favorites.

I’ll be seeing Mom again in a few weeks. It’ll be late July and likely ninety-eight degrees and ninety percent humidity. But I don’t care. I’m making her a pot of Cream of Broccoli Soup with Parsley and Dill.

Cream of Broccoli Soup with Parsley and Dill
Makes about 2 quarts

2 tablespoons olive oil
1 large onion, cut into small dice
2 medium carrots, cut into small dice
2 medium celery stalks, but into small dice
8 cups broccoli florets
1 quart chicken broth
1/4 cup packed parsley leaves
2 tablespoons packed dill leaves
2 tablespoons butter
3 tablespoons flour
1 can (12 ounces) evaporated milk
1/4 cup Parmesan cheese
Salt and ground black pepper
1 tablespoon lemon juice

Heat oil in a large pot over medium high heat. Add onion, carrots, and celery; sauté until tender, about 5 minutes. Add broccoli and broth and bring to a simmer. Reduce heat to medium-low and simmer, partially covered, until vegetables are tender, about 10 minutes. Remove about 2 cups of the broccoli florets and chop them into small pieces; set aside. Purée soup in a blender, adding parsley and dill, and making sure to vent blender by removing pop-out center and draping a kitchen towel over the top, until smooth. Return soup to pot, adding chopped broccoli.
Meanwhile heat butter in a small saucepan over medium-high heat; whisk in flour and then milk; simmer until thickened, just a few minutes. Stir in cheese until melted, and then whisk sauce into soup. Heat through and adjust seasonings, including salt and pepper to taste and the lemon juice. Serve.