Friday, May 28, 2010

The grass was made for the cows

Bridge over the New River Gorge in West Virginia

Yesterday I spent a day with my grandmother and grandfather in Grand Rapids. They're family legends--up until last August, my grandmother, at 86, was preparing meals at which four of the five dishes came from her own garden. This year she's much changed. Yesterday, I made a rhubarb pie for her, at her request, with rhubarb from my aunt's backyard.

I never thought I'd have her blessing bestowed on me like that. She's never been good at letting go in the kitchen, and she always seemed to believe that culinary skill was bestowed from above after a wedding, and only then. A month from now, I will be her lone unmarried grandchild, and the main thing she wanted for all of us was a family. But she trusts me to make pie crust, and that's a gift I never thought I'd get. I never made a rhubarb pie before, either. My crust, with her supervision, was more flaky and delicate than I ever thought I'd be able to make it, and I took extensive notes. So maybe that can be my inheritance.

It's hard to talk about the future, though. One of the main reasons I wanted to drive across the country with my brother was because I knew we'd be stopping here. I don't know how many visits we have left. Up until last fall, all four of my grandparents were still alive, still married to their original spouses. I had four full grandparents, a complete set. Now they’re dwindling, and it’s hard to feel that I’m gradually moving into the position of the second generation, rather than the third. The reality of it doesn't make it any easier to think about.

I don’t know why. All four lived amazing and full lives. I doubt they would say there was anything they wished for that they didn't accomplish. My grandparents are surrounded by love and I imagine that they are satisfied. Age is still hard, though. Aging is hard. The passage of time is hard, death especially hard. No matter who we are, at the end of our lives, we grab and hold on to every last minute.

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