Remembering to Look at the Small Picture
It’s Foodie Tuesday theme on the www.opensalon.com blog where I also post. In keeping with that, I try to do a piece about one of the vintage coffee pots in my collection each week. The coffee set featured here was given to me by Hawk and the kids for Mother’s Day some year’s back. It is a “Forman Brothers, Inc” creation. They did not stamp their pots with a serial number indicating the manufacture date, but based on the dome and the internal parts, my semi-educated guess would be a 1930’s vintage. Like its chromium cousins, the ceramic holds and conducts the heat for a superior clear black brew. That may seem like an oxymoron – clear black – I don’t know how else to express the quality of its appearance; but there certainly is clear, black, hot coffee and then there is tepid, brown/black mud. This coffee pot produces the former. I still maintain that it has something to do with the degree of heat achieved by these old appliances before the days of energy saving ratings and lawsuits for hot coffee in the lap. And again, as with coffee pots of this vintage, there is no thermostat controlled shut off, the unplugging/done level is the call of the maker. I chose this particular set for feature this week because I thought that the colors of this design went well with the Thanksgiving Holiday theme. The fact that it was a gift given to me in love by my husband and kids; coupled with the emails and comments left on my blog by my children, their cousins and my siblings; honoring, comforting and sharing my renewed grief at this time; reminded me that something is profoundly right in our little world in the corner of southeast Wisconsin.
Our lives do not play out on the grand stage, but are filled with the vignettes of “Turkey bowl football games, cleverly hidden Easter baskets, raucous Christmas grab bag games, marathon euchre or casino nights, gatherings for the various life events of birthdays, graduations, or the fact that one of the out-of-towners has made their way back; or to welcome a new arrival, our third generation now 10 strong with another on the way. On so many levels, I keep experiencing the fineness of the young people we’ve brought into this world; their unabashed affection for their aunts and uncles, their willingness to get to know them better and to be known better by them; each of them so unique and gorgeous and at the same time so full of many little familiarities that have been the stuff of my life.
I was prepared to wrap up my recent grieving with this writing, articulating the sense that in the big scheme of things, we are abundantly blessed at the small level, and this is true, but then a rogue wave hit.
Last week in the comments on Open Salon when I posted the recent piece titled “Grief”, Traveller1 shared: “A loss in the family can keep one screaming for a long time.“
That scream is here in my throat at this hour.
On Sunday my sister Linda left this comment on my midriff muse blog: “….I can only say that my heart aches, air does not fill my lungs, and nothing fills the void deep in the core of my being where my brother Tim held space. Not all days are like this anymore but moments still are. Sometimes it is like my world stops and I want to deny it happened, that somehow a mistake was made, and he will be returned to this earth. Now, I know that cannot be so but that would be so much easier:-(
He was my big brother and I looked up to him so with awe and amazement all of my life. I was so looking forward to hanging and jamming with him when our children got older as we had talked about doing. I have noticed that my breath this past few weeks has been labored and air seems unavailable because of the days nearing … ”
It dawned on me then what it is that is hurting me so much. This Thursday’s Thanksgiving will be the last first – the last of a year of first holidays without him and I don’t want there to be a last first because then it becomes too real. I don’t want it to become one year since he died, then two, then three. I don’t want it to become an anniversary. I don’t want it to become something quieter – with less upheaval; more acceptance. I don’t want him to become more memory than a person among us. And even as I write this in the dark, secluded on the sun porch with selected “Timmy” songs playing on my itunes; my daughter Shannon, home for the holiday, peeks in to tell me that the favorite and “missing-from-her-life lately” scalloped potatoes and ham that I made in the crock pot for her earlier is: “Good stuff, Maynard.” This brings me right back to the little picture in the big scheme of things again.
Also last week on Open Salon, AtHomePilgrim tenderly reminded: “Remember him at Thanksgiving, yes–but remember, too, to be with the people who are there. Loving them each day is the finest tribute you can pay Timmy.”
… and so we will gather. I imagine we will talk about him, laugh some, cry some. We’ll remember about him dunking his cookie in other people’s coffee, flicking the lids of the water bottles all over the Tricia’s house last year. There will probably be fishing stories told. At some point I will find my way to Tricia’s dining room table, one of several employed for the occasion; and I’ll remember a few years ago when Linda, Amy and I, along with some of our children chose this particular table to situate ourselves. As we sat after eating with our finished plates in front of us, the telling of a story brought up the concept of couples cuddling in the “spooning” position. Amy insisted she never, ever heard of spooning before and as Tim walked through she asked him what he knew of it – joking that she was sure that Tim knew all about forking but had he ever heard of spooning? Tim paused for just a second and then drawled in that Sam Elliot voice of his: “Well, my philosophy has always been …. when you’re that close ….insert!” Tim then exited the room leaving a wake of pre-teen and teen nieces grossed out, nephews looking down and smirking, my sisters and I shrieking protest while laughing our collective asses off.
Good stuff, Maynard!
Timothy John O’Connor
April 19, 1956 – December 3, 2008