Thursday, November 28, 2013

Gravy and Tears

It started with a gravy boat. A silver gravy boat that graces our table once or twice a year, at holidays. "This gravy boat doesn't pour straight," my husband told the boys tonight, "but we use it, because it's an heirloom." It was a funny statement, and it was true, also. Gravy spills over the rim and puddles underneath the boat. "Maybe," my husband mused, considering, "there was once a ladle that went with it." "Probably," I agreed, "but there's no one left to ask."

I was fine until that moment. I hadn't missed the two grandmothers and the one mother who made me, well, me, with so much more intention and follow-through than that one chance encounter of sperm and egg managed to do. How can it be that I can't call any one of them to ask them about the damn gravy boat?

And then I felt such profound loneliness as I looked around the Thanksgiving table to see the faces of people whom I love (and that is so important), yet who know nothing of the person I was for the greater part of my life. You know that loneliness, yes? The loneliness you feel at the end of a relationship, when you realize that it is chillier to be with him than to be away from him?

Of course it's always worse at the holidays, because one's own childhood experience of them resonates at such a high frequency - whines, demands, insists, insinuating itself into the present so thoroughly that it might as well be sitting next to you at the table. One familiar smell, and BOOM. Christmas, 1971. Or Thanksgiving, 1982. 

Anyway. Later I turned on the TV to find Charlie Brown, old buddy, unchanged, thankfully, and I smiled, and cried, and smiled some more. 

Children of mine, remember to ask me the important questions, like why the hell the gravy boat doesn't work right, while I sit here ready, willing, and able to answer them.

(Only I do see, I really do, how it is that the right questions cannot possibly occur to any of us until it's too late.)


Mary Gilmour said...

I always cry on turkey festival days. If someone catches me, I blame it on the onion in the stuffing - my grandmother and then my mother made the same recipe.
I am now the oldest member of my family - no siblings, cousins who get entirely on my nerves. And I hope to be asked the right questions before I leave; if not, I hope that the answers can be found in the blog, somewhere.
Your sons will have wonderful memories, I am more than sure.

Christine said...

i was fine until i watched steel magnolias with my daughter after dinner. the floodgates opened. xo

Magpie said...


Though my silver gravy boat I found in the basement of my step-mother's house when they were emptying it after she'd been put in a nursing home. It has someone's initials monogrammed on it - MV - I know not who.

But there are many other questions.

alejna said...

Even though I still have family living, I fear that many of the stories of the things I have inherited have been lost. I often think I should make an effort to preserve those stories that I can remember, and ask my mother and my aunt for more of the stories. And my mother-in-law, since we have gotten things from that side, too.

Thanksgiving and Christmas make me think of my grandmother often. She was such a strong influence in my life. I miss her so much. I wish that my children could have known her.

Alexandra said...

Thank you for this. I wept with the loss of the people who know me better than anyone. Those that were with me before I was even with myself. And now they're gone. No one here to know me like that ever agin on this planet. It is such a proud loss. This was sombeautiful . So beautiful. Thank you.