The idea today is: If you go anywhere in space and time, where would you go? My answer came instantly. Here goes.
The house isn’t big, but it’s bigger than the one my grandparents lived in for years before I was born, the one where my father grew up. As I approach the front door, Grandma’s rock garden is on my right. She loves that garden. Whenever we go to the beach, we bring back a bucket full of stones she can add to it.
I don’t need to knock. Papa can see me from the window. He’s in his kitchen, where he is the most talented person I know, cooking. I can’t wait to immerse myself in the mingling aromas of a lovingly prepared meal. What might it be today?
Turkey and gravy? Nah, it’s not Thanksgiving.
Pumpkin and apple pies? No, the chill of the holidays has yet to bite the air.
As I try and determine what meal might be on the menu, I’m also trying to figure out what time of year it is. Then I realize it isn’t any particular time of year. It’s just “A Day At My Grandparents’ House”.
Which means Pop will be cooking the stable stand-by my brother and I always ask him to make. Chicken strips, macaroni and cheese, and corn off the cob. It isn’t fancy, and he’s got a much bigger culinary vocabulary than we ever knew. But that one meal, more than any other, always felt like home.
I enter the house, and there are all the smells I’m so used to. The smells that say: A long-time couple lives here. They built a family, and that welcoming feeling you have in your soul is present because you’re a part of it, a part of them.
Papa comes out, and he doesn’t need to say a word. He’s got a dish towel slung over his shoulder (I’m not sure why), he’s wearing his King Of The Kitchen apron, and underneath it I can just glimpse his Seattle Seahawks Super Bowl Champions sweatshirt, extra large, because here his body retains the weight the cancer took.
“You saw the game,” I say, and just that one bit of knowledge allows tears to queue up behind my eyes. A lump forms in my throat, and I can’t swallow it down.
“Of course I did. I watched them every Sunday. Wouldn’t have missed this one.” He smiles. “How ’bout that Russell Wilson? He’s quite a player, isn’t he?”