Thursday 20 October 2022

The importance of peanut butter and jam

From Grade One to Grade Four I lived in a town in British Columbia. My parents moved around a lot but this was one place where we managed to stay for a few years.

My father had this habit of waking up around midnight, getting out of bed, putting two slices of bread in the toaster, having a peanut butter and jam sandwich and going back to sleep. A few pieces were usually shared with whatever dog we had at the time. If his moving around woke me up during the night there were times I would join him. Dad loved peanut butter and jam. I remember him having it for dessert after dinner several times.

Dad had a Grade Ten education and was a heavy duty mechanic. Across the avenue from us lived a family with the last name of Lane. David Lane was a university graduate who had his own firm and younger than dad. I do not think that Dad and David had anything in common yet they were friends. Our families spent a fair amount of time together.

In 1974 my father became quite ill and spent four months in the hospital, a fair amount of it in an ICU unit. I can remember going to the hospital with my sister and having to sit in the waiting area because we were not old enough to go upstairs to see him. That is what I was told at the time. It was a bit of a scary time as a kid, not knowing what was going on. He developed a problem with blood clots. At one time he was told clots had hit his lungs and they thought they lost him. After that he was sent to a hospital in Vancouver where they tried to figure out what was wrong with him.

Dad was in the hospital for an extended stay in Vancouver. At one point during that time David Lane and his wife were in Vancouver for dinner business meeting. Before their meeting they stopped to visit dad at the hospital. The visit was greatly appreciated, mom had us to look after and we did not see my father for months, never mind how tough it had to be for him. Dad's diet, among other things, was closely watched. David asked my father if there was anything they could get him. My father replied "I am dying for a toasted peanut butter and jam sandwich." He could not get one in the hospital.

David went to his dinner which was at a high end restaurant. After the meal the waiter asked if there was anything else. David asked for a toasted peanut butter and jam sandwich to go. From what I heard there was a pause and the waiter asked him if what he heard was correct. David said that was what he wanted. A period of time passed and the order was delivered to the table. He was charged six dollars for it and this was in 1974. Some lower level kitchen staff probably got sent out on a run to a grocery store to get a jar of peanut butter, a jar of jam, and a loaf of bread.

Right after the dinner the peanut butter and jam sandwich was delivered to dad by David to the hospital. Dad was damn grateful to get it and loved it.

Dad eventually got stabilized and released. He ended up taking blood thinners until the day he died. During Grade Four we moved and through the years we lost touch with the Lane family. Whenever a conversation got around to dad's extended stay in the hospital he would invariably mention the toasted peanut butter and jam sandwich and how happy he was to get it.

Dad died in 1997. I have no idea where our former neighbours wound up. If we ever cross paths I will be sure to mention a certain sandwich and how much it meant. 


  1. A very sweet little slice of your life, and well told.
    I favor my PB&J with Peach or Strawberry.


  2. What an amazing story! We had somewhat of a parallel experience in that a parent was away for months when we were young. My mother was in a serious car accident when I was 6 and she was in the hospital and then in a nursing home for about six months. Like you, I wasn't allowed to visit her in the hospital but they allowed me in once or twice when she was in the nursing home.

  3. Great story, well told. I remember as a kid having peanut butter and jelly sandwiches because that is all there was to eat given that we were as poor as the proverbial church mouse. My mother made the jelly.

  4. Life’s most important milestones and memories sometimes blow by so fast, you only see them in the rear view mirror…

  5. Now THAT'S a true friend! Great story.