I made stew the other night, and as is my habit, cut the carrots up in larger than average pieces. I have always done it this way, so my mother could pick them out. She hated carrots in any form, raw or cooked, but didn’t mind the flavor of them if she didn’t have to actually swallow them. “I agree with Dennis the Menace,” she told me once, when the dietitian at her “catered living center” pressed the issue of eating more yellow and orange vegetables. “I despise them.”

Catered living seems an odd name for what amounted to protective custody, but it was a particularly ludicrous term for what passed as dining. I tried to talk sense into Mom’s case manager. “She hates carrots,” I told her. “You present them to her at least once a day. She isn’t going to change her mind.”

“She should eat them anyway,” I was told.

“She won’t and you know it,” I replied. “Do you have a sweetheart relationship with the carrot lobby? What’s the big deal?”

“They’re good for her. She needs them.”

“She needs a little respect for her likes and dislikes,” I responded.

It was not to be, but my mother never yielded on the topic of carrots. To my knowledge, no amount of coercing or threats on the parts of her “caretakers” ever got a single bite between her lips.

So I continue to cut up carrots in large pieces, as a salute to my mother, who hated carrots, but permitted me to like them. It is one more way I honor her memory, and her tenacity, and pledge to never be on the receiving end of a pale pink tray with plastic covered dishes.