Dad in Kings Canyon, 1980s
This may be the first year I did not write a post about Dad on his birthday.
I had a hard time with his birthday this year, probably because of losing my Roscoe so recently. I am still struggling with Roscoe’s loss on a daily basis, so I guess thinking of someone else I loved greatly and lost suddenly didn’t help with keeping the flood of sadness at bay.
It would have been Dad’s 85th birthday, a milestone one. I’m not sure if that played into it too. But somehow, I got through the day at work, surrounded by the usual St. Patrick’s Day crap the day always brings, me with my heart aching and everyone else all cheerful. Good thing I’m good at faking it at work.
Thanks to Jonathan’s girlfriend Rio, we had dinner together the day after Dad’s birthday to honor him. When Jonathan checked out my car before I headed to Monterey, I said, “Let’s have dinner soon.” He agreed, and Rio pulled out her calendar, saying “Let’s pick a date, or it will never happen.” So we looked, saw the day after Dad’s birthday was a Friday, and a date was born.
When I came home from work that evening, Lupe and Luna came running up to greet me as usual, and Rio’s car was in the driveway. Inside, I found Rio and Jonathan already cooking in my kitchen(ette), a welcome sight indeed. They had brought everything needed to make Moroccan chicken, a recipe of Rio’s late mother (I’m sorry to say she is now a member of our sad No Parents Club). My brother’s giant cast iron pan was heating on my tiny stove, and he was browning chicken while Rio chopped kumquats.
I put my hair up, opened a bottle of wine, and got out my grandmother Nana’s wineglasses so we could toast Dad and Rio’s lovely mother Gloria. I set to work cutting up apples in the style of that same grandmother (carving pieces off until arriving at the core) to be made into crumble for dessert. I washed dishes while Jonathan made the crumble part, in which the secret ingredient is cardamon. He also puts in a pinch of cloves.
As Jonathan observed, having such a small space to cook in keeps you honest, since you have to clean up to make room to work in. Washing the dishes reminded me of doing the dishes with my much-loved grandfather Hoho* (husband of Nana). He had arthritic hands, and washing the dishes felt good to him. I used to dry, and he’d tell me stories:
These were special moments which I will always treasure.
Rob was already there, working hard at a new shelving extravaganza, and Megan came by after her 14 hour shift with coffee in hand. She has a magical ability to switch from coffee to wine in the afternoon which I admire but couldn’t emulate.
Rio asked to see some family photos. She especially liked this one of Jonathan and Megan in Maine. I’m guessing Jonathan was about 10, which would make Megan 4:
We got so far down memory lane that I almost (but not quite) forgot the crumble, pulling it out of my Easy Bake sized oven just in time. The Moroccan chicken was quite magnificent:
If I made it again, I’d use apricots instead of prunes, and maybe toss in a handful of toasted almonds for crunch, but it was delicious, and we were glad to remember Rio’s Mom along with our Dad. It made me happy to have my house full of the people I love most, all sharing food we cooked together:
It was a wonderful evening.
*So called because of his booming, distinctive laugh. You can read more about him here. He was really something.
A YEAR AGO: Wine and wild turkeys.