I’ve been thinking about change, of course– most of us are– as this New Year begins.
Who can resist the fresh start, the clean slate?
Yet, I’ve also been thinking about the changes that I don’t welcome. For me those changes come mostly with age. And yes, I can complain about the wrinkles and having to color my hair more often but those aren’t the changes that I’m really talking about.
I’m talking about the things that always were, that are now starting to fade away.
Like the kitchen stool in Trish’s kitchen.
I have spent countless hours on that stool, watching my best friend’s mom Trish cook, talking things over– sometimes alone, sometimes with the other women collected in that kitchen for the same comfort I sought.
And Trish delivered that comfort, my whole life. She was always a source of wisdom and perspective. She’s 81 now and lives on her own. She lost both her husband and daughter to cancer. And I visit her in her rambling house in Vermont whenever I can. I say it’s to help her. Really, though, it’s to help me.
During my last visit, Trish wound up in the emergency room. She found herself suddenly unable to walk. Now she faces a slow recovery and uses a walker. It is harder for her to stand in the kitchen.
So our kitchen stool days have changed. I wonder, are they gone?
It has occurred to me that perhaps it’s my turn to set up a kitchen stool.
I think it may be my time to be what Trish was to me, to others…. After all, I was taught by the best.
What rituals have comforted you? What people taught you well? Share Please.
I’m with my parents this Thanksgiving. It’s just me this year. Since there are five of us, you never know what combination of the clan will land. But this year I am flying solo with them.
One of the great blessings of my adulthood has been that I still have them. I’ve gotten to know them in a way that is so different than how I knew them in my twenties and thirties. They are all too human to me now… I see them much the way I see dear friends I love and admire –people of a time and place who have survived the joys and sorrows that life brings us…and who have done so with grace and dignity and humor.
My mother insisted on cooking the dinner again. She is 81 now. I didn’t argue too much– stood at the ready and tackled the clean-up with all I could give it. She told me it felt good to know she ‘could still cook Thanksgiving dinner.’ The verdict: turkey was good – moist, not dry; stuffing was a bit dry for her liking. “Easily fixed with gravy,” my dad and I responded!
In the morning I took my Dad– who will be 87 tomorrow– to the beach. He sat on the boardwalk bench and I headed down for a long walk along the Atlantic. I returned to him, my soul soothed, and we sat for a while and talked.
He speaks more now of his childhood. I love his stories–like the one about the fire on the Morrow Castle, which beached in Spring Lake, New Jersey on its return trip to New York Harbor from Havana. His folks drove down from Bayonne with the rest of the crowds to see the famous grand passenger ship now ruined and burned. The story of the Morrow Castle goes on and includes explosions and prison and murder… look it up. It’s a great tale.
My favorite moment was when he said, “I remember I had a little camera that took postage stamp size pictures. I could see the entire hull…it was enormous.” His gaze never left the ocean as he recalled that day.
“How old were you Dad?”
“I was six.”
I always get choked up when we talk about his memories.
Happy Birthday, Pop.
Tell me about your parents. What are their stories?