They put just a little bit of rhubarb on the top of the tuna. The waiter described in French why the chef likes the combination, but after one glass of wine from the local vineyard, there was really no need for explanations. It was delicious, but more than that, transportive.
My grandmother grew rhubarb in her garden. Just as easily as you could see it from her kitchen window, I can see it today. The large pink stalks. I suppose it was the color I loved. I can’t remember ever eating it. I could paint a picture of that garden. The apple trees. The lawn. The garage. The barn. The chicken coop. The fences. The cows. The cowpies. The house. The doors. The stairs. It’s all inventoried and locked in my brain. These are the true gifts.
Of course she gave us presents. Each birthday we got a crisp five dollar bill in the mail. Even when I had moved away. Old enough to have my own apartment. My own job, it would arrive right on time. An envelope, with the handwriting I recognized as hers. I don’t know what I did with the money. Maybe a coffee at Starbuck’s. But I saved the envelopes. Her handwriting. Still with me in France. Forever written on my heart.
After the sugar rush of Easter Sunday, Margaux sat by me on the sofa. I was thumbing through the pictures on my ipad. She let out an audible gasp of joy. I stopped on the painting of my mom’s blouse hanging on the clothesline. Because she knew it. She knew the place. It was a part of her heart now. My heart gasped along in time, because we had given her that. It wasn’t the chocolate or any other presents, but it was the life here. The life that blew from my grandparent’s farm, to my mother’s apartment, across the sea, to the line behind our house — it was all a part of her heart’s inventory now. There was no need for explanation.
It’s all in the details. My grandma knew this. My mother as well. I hope I can live in the same way. Give in the same way. Love in the same way, because the stakes are high — our hearts, forever on the line.
April 12, 2023 at 1:58 pm
Beautiful visual in my mind.