Last Sunday

I woke up from a dream in which I got to spend time with my paternal grandparents. Oh, how good it was to see them again–to hear my grandfather’s laugh and see his smile. My grandmother told me things she never told me when alive, about herself as a young woman. The grandfather in my dream died in 2004, and it had been so long since I’ve seen him in my sleep. I can’t remember the last time my other grandfather, who died in 1981, visited my dreams. In just a few years, I will be as old as he was the last time I saw him alive.

People who tell us that our dead will always be with us are wrong, I thought, as I opened my eyes in a house none of my grandparents got to see.

My grandparents are receding from me; they don’t occupy the space in my thoughts and feelings they did even just a year or two ago. Perhaps that’s because I’m no longer the woman I was when we last saw each other in this world, and because the world we lived in together no longer exists.

Later that morning, my daughter baked a cake with her husband, who lives on another continent, in a time zone 9 hours apart from ours. He made one there, and she made one here. They worked through a recipe together on a video call. (She lives neither here nor there, but some place in transit between two worlds that are now, I suppose, both home and not-home simultaneously.)

I sat nearby, working a crossword puzzle, while Cane relaxed on the living room sofa, reading whatever it is he reads on his phone. Our house is so small that we were all together. I answered questions about where the sugar was and if the butter and sugar mixture was “light and fluffy.” Cane sipped coffee. Later, I washed up while she dried, and in the bathroom we could hear the buzz of Cane’s clippers as he cut his hair before leaving for the gym.

I’m writing about this so I will not forget that morning, with its remarkable ordinariness, the grass so green through the window I sat in front of while my daughter measured flour and creamed butter.

While the water ran over my hands, I thought about how there will come a time when she is no longer here, when she will be back in her new country, and perhaps it will be the two of us who are baking together through a screen. As I handed her the beater to dry, I thought of all the ordinary kitchen times I shared with my grandmothers, almost none of which I remember now with any specificity.

I know that even if she weren’t going to make her life in her husband’s country, death or time would part us in other ways. Living is a series of so many little deaths, as one version of us gives way to another. I didn’t know this when I was a young woman in other kitchens with my grandmothers, my mother. I didn’t know to cement the moments in memory. I do now, though.

I took the recycling outside, and I was struck by the flowers blooming in the backyard, which I could see through a gate left open by one of us. They are so briefly beautiful, like the green of spring grass. The gate felt like an invitation.

Why write? There are so many reasons, but this is always what it comes down to for me: To keep alive the things I love: slow Sunday mornings in late spring, my daughter as a lovely young woman, Cane and I in the early twilight of our lives.

After this week’s Supreme Court ruling, I thought that perhaps this post I’d written was irrelevant. I decided it’s not. Feel free to see it as an extended metaphor, to make what connections you will.

8 thoughts on “Last Sunday

  1. Marian says:

    Grace got married! That’s SO lovely, Rita! Congratulations to her and her husband 🙂 .

    This is a beautiful post. The connection I’m making between your last Sunday and the Supreme Court ruling is that the lack of access to full reproductive health care will hit certain populations harder than others—people who are already (perhaps) living in food deserts; people who are (perhaps) working long hours for little pay and don’t have time to cook or bake from scratch; people who are (perhaps) generations away from even having the knowledge of *how* to cook or bake. I can see how the ruling will make life worse for many of these women, and make it even more difficult for them to provide healthy food (and a healthy home environment) for their children.

    A few years ago I made a cookbook for my daughter. I bought a small binder and created a cover page (“The [our last name] Kitchen, hand-lettered in the same way I make all my kids’ birthday cards), and then wrote out all the recipes that I routinely made when my kids were growing up. My daughter teared up when she saw it. I then teared up at her reaction, but I have to admit that it was bittersweet. She has good kitchen memories, and I’m happy/grateful/relieved that I was able to provide that for her, but at the same time I kind of sort of envy her for that.

    • Rita says:

      Thank you, Marian–it *is* lovely. 🙂

      I love your cookbook idea. A few years back, my mom made a binder for me, with recipes from my great-grandmother. I grew up with her Croatian cooking. (She lived with my grandparents and did most of the cooking, because my grandmother worked outside their home.) I have to admit there is only one that I cook, but I did through my children’s childhood. (We call it “Grandma Spaghetti.”) Still, I am glad I have that binder, and I hope to try more of the recipes in the coming year. That’s a wonderful gift you gave to your daughter. Certainly worthy of some good tearing up.

  2. Kate says:

    I don’t know about the metaphor, but I needed the joy today, Rita. Thank your for ordinary day and the memories of grandparents’ kitchens in a way where I felt the peace and coziness of them. I was trying to explain to V on Friday that joy is a form of resistance too. I have a lot of feelings about the privilege of when I had to learn that vs. when they and others have but that’s a blog post I’ll have to write some day.

    Congratulations to your daughter. I’m glad you’re getting to spend this ordinary time with her.

    • Rita says:

      Thank you, Kate. I think a lot about the idea of joy as resistance. And about the privileges that kept me from learning a lot of things until only relatively recently. I would love to read that blog post from you. In the meantime, I’m happy to see the glimpses of joy you regularly share. Helps me find my own.

  3. TD says:

    Love the two bakers in the kitchen! Tickled me just right today, Rita. Good moments to record for a gratitude journal and post. Thank you for sharing with me.

  4. Kari says:

    I was so immersed in your words that I overlooked the term “husband” in connection to your daughter. I am so happy for her and for you.

    This was just what I needed on a Monday morning. I’ve been hearing a lot about time and relativity theory. I frequently wonder whether I am living in many time periods at the same moment.

    Why write? You articulated it perfectly. Keep writing, my lovely friend. Keep writing. 
    Kari recently posted…Final Chapter- Not My Mother’s MenopauseMy Profile

    • Rita says:

      Thank you for all the kind words. As for time and relativity: I can feel that I am living in many time periods at once. More and more.

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