So, you know, I am off in America, spending time with my Grandparents in PA. My Grandfather is doing a remarkable job as he ages with cancer. My husband back at our home in Tokyo, is parenting on his own. I am here, representing my whole Japan clan. It is a good trip, filled with every kind of salad & ice cream. I’m thinking that all the green will cancel-out the heavy cream…
Here, in Allentown, everything has a name, described in particulars, in depth, and with smart words. We do not just chase cat tails and obtuse words like “stuff”. Here, we ask questions. Here, you are allowed, prompted, no—expected, to think.
Welcome to my Grandparents’ home. Sit down, here, have some wine. There is going to be talking. Here, grab some Gouda. We have time before dinner at 6:30.
How it worked growing up is that if you didn’t know a word, you’d look it up in a fat college dictionary. You could surely be corrected, but it’s good for toughening-up. If you don’t know something, you ask questions. Move forward. You converse. It’s nice. It’s called human. It’s called knowing where to put a spoon and where to place the fork.
Every article of interest, worthwhile, is read aloud in a solid voice or shared in summation without hesitation. Thinking creatures must breathe. We don’t have to flit. I think of my Grandfather directing plays, rooted on stage, name ironed-on back of chair.
Here, words are used well. We all stand upright, not stifling thought. “Speak your mind, young lady, and stop apologizing”! I’m still learning this, my education with paperbacks, tall spines, supple mouth. I learn to undo the constant sorrying. “Tell me, my dear darling, tell me what you are reading, where you’ve been, how things are, conditions, numbers, how it feels to not be in your normal bed. Tell me, do you like the stars?”
I keep asking questions. Tell me of 60 Minutes, of real estate in Israel. Tell me of recipes, Borscht she could not replicate, dinner parties of yore. Tell me, dear Grandparents, of yellowed letters, spouses also cousins; tell me of colleagues, theatre departments, libraries, and the recycling cans.
Tell me over black coffee that you love having me here, even though I continue, in traces, to want to sponge the remainders of soups and cappuccino when I should simply fill and fill the dishwasher, and that’s it. “Stop with the washing”!
Read me, sing me your voice during youngest/only kid, NYC culture during wartime bonds, stock market swings, pressing records, traipsing around Europe, in love, picnic sweaters.
Tell me of concern, of love, when your best friend died or when your daughter ran off. Tell me over the perfect pie crust, how hard your father worked, how fine a runner, all the ambition balled up, and stretched in a girlish Great-Grandmother. Teach me of history. Of geography, recollection.
When you eloquently speak, teach me again, infinitum, about meeting your wife, of your commute–Long Island to PA, while I sit, post-Pilates, spine to tummy lounging on your Mid-Century couch reupholstered four times. I will hold onto my wine stem and not break the beat with an ill-timed sip. I will wash it later, by hand, while you dry.
I feel encompassed by care, flocked by rhododendron, aloes and jade, cactuses rioting in blooms, and that gargantuan amaryllis, a bit ostentatious if you are not accustomed to flowers or beauty or red in sunlight-stream. We talk over making the lamb–relationships take more than words, but motions in line with those words. Action is the crux, it seems.
It will be a whole lifetime of actions blooming even now, even here, in me, with me.
The continuance we need: long sips and shawls, cookies and cheese, crackers, cold chicken, & trips to the gym; seeing his misty blue eyes and wanting him to see we see him. Oh, emptying dishwashers we fill up again. A movie on pause. Plans to rest and discover tomorrow-errands and that which we could not fit into today. My, how you adore snowflakes made by my girl. Tomorrow we can do anything like feel stronger. We can catch a parade.
It will take many strong Herculean tries and a triple-dozen or so hugs. It will take a great many words to say just who you are beyond me.