Many of you who read me regularly know that I was lucky enough to have had my parents until they were in their eighties and since they lived only three doors away from me, I saw them on almost a daily basis. It was so wonderful to have had their help as I was raising my kids, not just in practical ways like babysitting or an extra set of hands, but for their experience, guidance, and wisdom when it came to all matters of life. My father had such funny maxims that he would share with my kids. “Hygiene begins with brushing your teeth. If your teeth look nice, so does the rest of you.” Or “be careful dating a girl with long hair. You can’t be sure she’ll wash it everyday.” My father was one of those rare men who thought short-haired women were the most beautiful. Lucky for me. At the moment, my youngest son has long hair and I can only imagine what he’d be saying about that. My mother dwelled on more serious matters. “Your kids are wonderful, but don’t tell anyone that. Let them tell you. No one wants to hear you talk about how great your kids are.” True words that I’ve always tried to live by, except occasionally here on this blog. I hope she can forgive me. My parents lived in a house that was immaculately clean where they dusted the pipes in the basement once a month and they organized their trash cans at the curb from largest to smallest. They often commented on the disorganized manner in which my own cans went out, prompting my inevitable retort, “But it’s TRASH,” which never failed to fall on deaf ears. Cleanliness was everything. As my mother often told my kids, “If your room is neat, and your bed is made, you’ll feel so much better about yourself.” Again, such true words.
Having my parents for as long as I did and seeing their relationship with my children had such profound meaning for me. My own childhood was somewhat lonely once we moved to the suburbs. My brothers were much older and out of the house by then, and my parents were struggling with a number of things at that time, not the least of which was the loss of their city neighborhood and its sense of home and large circle of friends that they’d known forever. They loved me, of that I’m certain, but their focus was quite simply on other things. Since I seemed to be remarkably self-sufficient and old beyond my years, it was easy to for them to overlook how much I still craved their attention. I never resented them for what they weren’t able to give me, but rather I always intuitively understood that our relationship was rich and complicated, and that I was meant to play an important role in their lives. That did indeed come true, but my unexpected reward was being able to witness the sweet and genuine affection that they grew to have for my children. That healed me, and whatever hurts I had felt, and it gave me the opportunity to feel that singular sense of insularity that is the very meaning of the word family, but had always been somewhat missing for me. It was monumentally important for my kids, and it’s evident in the fierce love they have for me and for their father, and for the genuine loyalty and devotion that they have for one another. In having my children, I found my parents, and that was one of the greatest gifts that life could ever have given me. Once I had them, I wanted to keep them forever, and I felt the loss of them so deeply. I still want to sit at their kitchen counter and drink coffee with them, listening to their stories, and telling them mine. I often find myself dreaming of that very thing.
Two weeks ago, a new little grandson arrived in my life and I once again marveled at how my heart was able to expand to include him. It will always amaze me how this happens so suddenly and, quite literally, right in front of my eyes. I am fortunate that my son and daughter-in-law have chosen to live only a few houses away, and I am constantly reminded of my own parents every time I’m with Nora and Jack. I can hear their voices in mine, in its inflection, and in the things that I say. I carry them forward in me, and give them to my grandchildren, and their spirits are in turn given back to me. I feel them with me again on a daily basis. To say that this fills my heart with joy is the greatest understatement in the world. Today’s cocktail celebrates Jack Henry. It’s a martini made with Sourland Mountain gin, distilled locally in Hopewell, NJ, to which I added a dash of Giffard Blue Curaçao for color and sweetness, and a dash of Krogstad Aquavit for its Scandinavian heritage. Jack in the first blond-haired baby in my life, and we joke that his fair hair and skin, along with his Scorpio sun-Virgo moon combination, make him likely to lean towards the scientific side of things. He also has the longest fingers that I’ve ever seen, and he often rests them under his chin or on the side of his face as if in quiet contemplation of the world rotating on its axis and spinning around the sun. Cheers everyone. Happy Friday!
All Things Scientific
Add all ingredients to a mixing glass with ice and stir until very, very cold. Strain into a martini glass. No garnish. Enjoy!