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Welcoming Life

October 2013

Red Sox and memories

Last night after 95 years, the Red Sox won the World Series at home! At Fenway Park.

My husband, Larry, was a Red Sox fan. I was too. The team and Fenway Park were part of our family's lore before we met each other. There are stories.

My brother, Tommy, was listening to a game on the radio in our Maine cottage years ago, and my father asked him why he wanted to listen to the game since the Red Sox were doing so poorly that year. My brother responded, "this is an important game, it determines who is in last place!"

I watched my son weep as he watched Bill Buckner's fielding error in the 1986 World Series against the Mets. Rob is a baseball fan (actually an all sports fan), and I texted him last night so we could share the memory of when Larry asked him a couple of weeks before his 18th birthday if he would like to see the Sox play the Oakland A's. Rob said he would, but they are playing in California. Larry said, "I know, and that's where we're taking you for your birthday." We went and Rob caught a Mark McGwire fly ball. 

My daughter, Katie, fits into the memory reel as well. Last weekend, we watched the game together, the one that featured the now famous "Obstruction" call. She went to her Iphone immediately to check the rule and said to me (as I was groaning) "the call was correct" and read me the rule.

Larry and I were married in Boston. The night before the ceremony, we had our rehearsal "dinner" at Fenway Park where we treated relatives to a double header. He won my father's heart at that moment. He already had mine.

I have a hard time watching important games alone. I miss the camaraderie of cheering with someone. Last night's game was big, and I knew I had to watch it. My text to Rob helped, I needed to say, I miss Lar, and I knew he would understand. 

I reveled in the win; it was an historic moment. It was more than baseball's moment--for me, it gave me a chance to relive happy memories.  And perhaps more importantly, the Red Sox lifted a town, Boston, brought down by a tragedy a chance to cheer again.

Our big fat happy family wedding

Our family got together last Saturday for a family wedding. When I explain about our family, I think it would help if I handed out a diagram of who belongs to whom; it's a gnarly, wonderful tree. The fact is, we all belong to each other.

At this wedding celebration, there were husbands, wives, former (I don't like ex) husbands and wives, cousins, grandchildren, aunts, uncles and friends. We were all there to share in the happiness of two people promising their love to one another, and we were all caught up in the moment of that precious devotion.

The bride was beautiful, her husband adoring. There is something very special about witnessing unabashed love. It breeds a sense of renewal and hope. 

One of the things I worried about after my husband died was whether or not I would ever feel that sense of wonder again--the wonder of witnessing true love. Would I be jealous? Would I be envious? Two emotions that wreck the heart and soul--so I fought against the temptation.

When the loss is raw, it is hard to be exposed to lovers swooning. I did protect myself, by just turning away from events where I knew my husband's absence would be devastating.

My heart has healed. And nowhere was the evidence more revealing than at this wedding. I danced with my grandchildren, laughed with my children and their spouses, and felt privileged to share special memories--decades old.

My husband had this cupid's bow designed. It was his first present to me. I explained to the bride that I take it out of its black velvet bag for occasions where love is celebrated, and her wedding was one of them.

The pearl arrowhead points to my heart when I'm wearing it. In a corner of that heart is a tiny ache, the place where I keep my husband's love close to me. The rest of the heart rejoiced in the laughter and friendship felt this evening.

Julia Child and Women's Liberation

I started reading this weekend Dearie  The Remarkable Life of Julia Child by Bob Spitz; it's wonderful. It is more than I imagined. I thought I was going to be reading another story about how Julia Child revolutionized how we cook. Even how she is obviously the reason why watching cooking shows on television has become a national past time. I like to cook, my husband Larry--not so much. He could make a mean peanut butter and jam sandwich and excelled at fresh-squeezed orange juice--but that was about the extent of his prowess in the kitchen. But we both used to love to watch Emeril Lagasse's show on the Food Network and the phrase "kick it up a notch" became a family favorite. Even when Larry was weak towards the end and food wasn't so appealing, we would still entertain ourselves watching Emeril.

That's how I viewed Julia before I started reading this book. I thought she kicked cooking up a notch and taught women how to be more inventive in the kitchen. I never realized before reading Dearie  that she grabbed the attention of women in the early 1960's, much in the same way the Women's Liberation movement was opening our eyes. Here's an excerpt from  Dearie

"The story of her emancipation and self-realization runs parallel...to the struggle of post-war modern American women: the dearth of opportunity available to her, the lack of respect for her untapped talents, the frustrations of the educated housewife who felt bored and trapped by the traditional role that had been handed to her by the tedium of housework, the demands of motherhood, being the perfect cheerleader, the perfect hostess...The domestic life of that era was fraught with dissatisfaction."

In the book, Spitz quotes journalist Laura Shapiro "Homemakers read the Feminine Mystique for the same reason they watched the French Chef. They had been waiting a long time and they were hungry."

WOW! Those words blew me away. I never made the connection. I married my first husband in 1967 two weeks after I graduated from college. I was one of the homemakers described in the earlier paragraph. I loved my children with all my heart, but I felt like a duck out of water most of the day. I was confused about why I went to college and what I was doing with that education on a daily basis. I was not a good homemaker, so bad at keeping up with the laundry that one day my husband had to wear his jock strap to work because he had no clean underwear.

In my mid-twenties with two children who were two and five years old, I started to volunteer at our local political headquarters. A few hours a week turned into a paid position, and from there I went on to build a full-time career.

Did I know then that Julia Child was one of my heroes along with Betty Friedan, Gloria Steinem, and Marilyn French? No, I did not. But in retrospect because of reading this book, I now know she was. 

I did like to cook. I did not like the other aspects of housework -obviously! I recall getting Julia's books at the library and being charmed by watching her on PBS. The apocryphal story about her dropping a turkey or chicken on the floor during a televised episode was actually Julia flipping a potato pancake in the air and a portion flew out of the pan--she patched it up. The best thing that came out of that incident was her legendary remark "if you're alone in the kitchen, who is going to see."

I was fortunate to see Julia in her eighties speak at a luncheon in Rochester, NY. I got to shake her hand, but now I wish I had been able to thank her for more than helping me to become a better, fearless cook. I wish I had the chance to thank her for helping me to become a better, fearless person.

The image in this post is Julia's omelet. A staple in my kitchen--a kitchen which now provides sustenance for mostly me. I have it at least once a week. I found out from reading Dearie --Julia made this omelet in her first appearance on WGBH-TV on a science show in 1962. The show that launched her career and changed how we cook forever.
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