Sunday, December 13, 2009

When LIfe is Sweet


The bags of toffee for my clients.


In the cardboard box, ready for distribution.

Yesterday, late afternoon, I drove to Northfield, Minnesota to spend the night with my parents, Howard and Neidra Krebs, ages 80 and 79. They have been married for 58 years. Whose counting? I went alone. Lee, of course, is in New York City. And my children are scattered. But, I will not be spending the holiday with them this year so I wanted to spend a bit of time with them before I left. It was sweet.

We had potato and leek soup and corn muffins at the cherry table with candles. Mom had made an angel food cake. Dad defrosted frozen strawberries picked at the peak of summer. But, I couldn't eat dessert, satiated by the soup and pre-dinner crackers and cheese and wine. Before we picked up a spoon, Mom thanked the spirits for our gathering as we sat with bowed heads. She used to thank God, but she has become more neutral about religion in her older age. I still thank God for things.

After dinner, I had plans. I schlepped the fixins' for my annual batch (or four) of toffee, which I give to my clients and dearest friends. So, after Mom had her 20 minute nap at 7:30, we got to work. I stood at the stove and stirred 400 degree butter and sugar while she chopped walnuts and melted Ghiradelli chocolate in a double boiler. We talked and talked and talked through four batches of toffee. It took about two hours, but the time flew. Like a sewing bee, we just talked and worked, talked and worked. We talked about my writing. We talked about books, her book group, my children, our family, recipes, hairstyles for older women, graying hair and should it be colored, my grandmother's embarrassingly filthy carpet, my father's medications. Women's work. Women's talk. It was very, very sweet and so was the toffee.

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