Unthinkable changes after 50 Years

From the moment we are born we start changing.  As children the changes come quickly in every way possible.  Six months can bring huge shifts physically, emotionally, and mentally.  Along the way, the teenage years and puberty come along, bringing changes we don’t even understand.
We find our way in high school, maybe college or a job.  We meet new friends, while keeping a few of the old ones.  Some move away from home never to return.  Others live within a short walk of where they were born.  
If we are lucky, we continue to change with a spouse, then children.  Sometimes we feel the changes and sometimes we aren’t even aware they are happening.  After grandchildren, you start to evaluate your life a bit more.  
Perhaps it is because grandkids remind you of your own time as a child.  As a parent you didn’t have the time to see it, what with colds, diapers, tennis, and school.  As a grandparent, you are more removed and see each incredible change as it happens before your eyes.  
Grands are so innocent, believing almost anything you tell them.  They have more energy than you ever remember having and never tire of playing a game, any kind of game.
Maybe it is this constant change in our lives that makes us cling to certain constants, things that never seem to change.  For instance, green has always been my favorite color.  I am driving my 13th Volvo.  Chicken Divan is hands down my favorite dish, but vanilla has always been my favorite ice cream.
Compass Lake has always been a constant in my life, tying me back to my parents, grandparents, and even great-grandparents, but now more importantly with my children and grandchildren.  It is never exactly the same as in my childhood memories, but they are having a ball.
The truth is almost everything has changed in my 62 short years, from my waist size to the color of my hair.  My bones creak more when I get up and my muscles ache more when I go to bed.  I snore, according to my wife, though that has never been independently verified.
There has always been one thing, though, that has held steadfast in my life.  No matter where I have been or who I have been with, there has been one thing I could count on to be the same.  It tied me back to the Summer of my eighth year at Compass Lake.  I had my tonsils taken out and my mother gave me a mayonnaise sandwich to get me to eat something.  It was a love affair that never wavered.
Mayonnaise.  More specifically, Kraft mayonnaise has been with me every step of the way.  An occasional taste of Hellman’s was acceptable in a crunch, but never to buy for the cupboard.  Even my grandmother’s homemade mayonnaise did not hold a candle to the smooth, creamy, rich texture of Kraft mayonnaise.
I ate mayonnaise sandwiches, usually preferring Colonial bread because the larger holes allowed more mayo to soak into the bread.  I spread it with a spoon rather than a knife and knew I had enough when it squished out the side.  
For over 50 years, I never wavered.  It was Kraft only and always.  It was the one thing in my life that never changed.    
Then it happened.  It started with a single packet from Hardee’s. Duke’s mayonnaise.  The packet was yellow, more like a mustard pack.  The taste was oddly different, but in a good way.  In a month, I bought my first jar of Duke’s, feeling almost unfaithful.
Duke’s is a southern thing, started by a Mrs. Duke who spread her homemade mayonnaise on sandwiches to sell to soldiers during World War I at Fort Sevier in South Carolina.  It is still hard to buy outside the south.  
Duke’s one amazing secret?  It has no sugar or sweetener of any kind.  No other commercial mayo can make that claim, though it is still loaded with fat.
I made an unthinkable change after 50 years, proving you can teach an old dog new tricks.  If you have any trouble finding Duke’s mayonnaise in the grocery store, drop by my house.  You will find it in the refrigerator door where the Kraft’s mayo used to be.  If you have some time, we’ll even make a sandwich to try it out.  
o0o
Dan Ponder can be reached at [email protected]

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