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December 20, 2007 | Category: In My Life

I got up this morning, scrubbed my face, and meant to make myself a pot of tea.

Instead, I began chopping. Slicing. Celebrating my still nimble hands and my one good knife. Onions, beets, carrots, leeks, potatoes.

One pot bubbling with a tawny port and a touch of beef stock. Layers and layers of onions growing a warm brown.

Another pot an explosion of color. Mounds of vegetables, blending into a happy maroon.

The steam fogged up the winter window. The dog and cat collapsed with happy sighs against the wall. My son at the table, writing a letter to Santa.

And still in my nightgown. Hair piled into an untidy bun. Nose still pink with a fading cold. My hair streaks a fading pink against my darkening winter hair.

I'm listening to a mix that I made for my Dad. Ramsey Lewis Trio doing 'The In Crowd' and Buddy Rich's 'Keep the Customer Satisfied'. Every once in a while, Bear and I break out in the white man's shuffle; dancing like pecking pigeons while biting our lower lips and bobbing our heads.

Years from now, I'll teach him to sway with a lighter going in his hand whenever a certain Southern Fried Rock tune is played. It's important to teach your kids to respect the classics.

A dozen or so years ago, my Dad, who is all about being with the one you're with, got with a nice New England lady who had two young kids. I was in my late 20's, doing my own thing, and took little notice.

As the years went by, he became more and more a part of her life, her family, her world. Months would drift by and I'd wonder how long it had been since he and I had spoken.

Once I had Bear, we began reconnecting. As you do. And so, the last couple of years, I have finally gotten to know her a bit. Met her kids, finally. Her daughter, just last summer. I am no one to them, really. The mother of their stepdad's grandson.

We went to dinner, one night. And she and my father had a playful argument. "But we alllllways go there..." she teased him, about his choice of restaurant. And I realized, with a start, that they'd had an entire childhood with my Dad.


We awkwardly try, belatedly try, to blend things now. For him, for Bear. So I pack up boxes, with gifts for those people I do not know. With smiley faces on the tags.

And listen to a CD I never sent. Spell out a word for my son, who is still such a stranger to them. Add dill to a soup they do not know I make. Let the warm kitchen air curl the tendrils of my hair as it spills from that old ratty band.

This is not the family of the Christmas movies. This is not gingerbread houses, and hoof sounds on the roof. You get older, and realize that most moments are a compromise between history and today.

And that's OK.

I mean, it wasn't, before. And maybe won't be tomorrow. Something will happen, rip the wound back open.

But for right now? Yeah. It's OK.

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I am glad you are feeling better & your spirits are lifted! I understand about your father. I had a very similar experience. We did have a relationship which I am very grateful for, but there was a big part of his life that I didn't know anything about. He is married now to the woman that he had an affair with when he & my Mom got divorced. I never knew this woman many years ago. My Mom wouldn't let me go to his house, but he could come see me & take me to my grandmother's. There have been several women that he has been with over the years that I have met. On day I found some pictures of his with a woman that I had never seen & all these pictures were taken at my grandmother's. So on the weekends when he wasn't taking me to my grandmother's he was taking this other lady that I didn't meet until years later when he got back in contact with her & eventually married. Anyway it was weird to think my family knew about her & had a relationship with her & I never knew anything about it. I felt so betrayed by them.
I think when it comes to your parents you are always that little bitty kid in how you think about them. Also, you can't help but love them! (yes, I can also write run-on sentences!)

Posted by: Cindy on December 20, 2007 07:38 PM