Taking over Mom’s tradition
SATURDAY, November 28 – I start the day by preparing two breakfasts and taking the dog for a walk. I’d rather have taken the day off and the boys understand that, but when the youngest looks up at me with that innocent look on his face and the oldest announces that I’m the only person on earth who can make a ‘super bagel’, then I capitulate.
But my weakness was conditional: I demanded the ‘last bite’. They agreed, and this was a biggie. The last bite had always been reserved for Mom – no discussion. Last bites were consumed by no one else but the woman who had brought them into this world and by the woman I was married to.
Once in a while we’d forget, and Jennifer would pretend to be shocked, offended or just disappointed. Oops, sorry. Then we’d look for an excuse: so scrumptious that we totally forgot about the last bite.
It was a family tradition, and one that was firmly anchored: Last bite was for Mom. Wherever I was, I would automatically spear that last bite, to give to Jennifer. Even in the office canteen or in a restaurant during a working lunch, I felt the urge to hold up my fork. Here, the last bite.
At the dining room table Jenn and I fantasized about this Nolan tradition. How it would continue for generations, how our children would initiate their grandchildren in the tradition of ‘the last bite’. I hope that it will become a culinary legacy and that I will continue to feel that automatic reflex at the dining table.
Sander just gave me his last bite. I thanked him with a kiss. We didn’t say anything. It felt right and it was delicious.
21:15 – Holy shit. I’m feeling totally devastated. Have I just dropped into a yawning chasm of emptiness? I remember my mother’s loneliness and desolation after the death of my father. As such, I began busying myself with things that were doomed to be counterproductive.
Cleared the top drawer of her dresser. Panties, bras, lingerie… straight into a garbage bag. I don’t want to think of anyone else wearing them. I wouldn’t want that. It was beautiful underwear intended for her body and no one else’s. Out it goes.
Aha, one empty drawer. Next, I changed the queen-sized bed, evenly dividing the sheets and blankets, which wasn’t necessary, since she no longer pulls all the bed covers over to her side. I have the bed all to myself. I can snore as much as I want to. No one there to give me a kick. No one who finally retires to the spare room and, over coffee the next morning, makes it clear to me that I really went to town last night. There’s none of any of that, merely the emptiness of the night ahead of me.
Tomorrow I’ll empty drawer number two.