"Say what you have to say, and not what you ought."
~ Henry David Thoreau

Sunday, March 20, 2016

Asparagus and Love

The other night I had asparagus for dinner. As I stood at the sink rinsing and snapping the stalks before steaming them, my mind flashed back to an Easter dinner long ago and memories of my Grandpa French. Asparagus always reminds me of grandpa. He's been gone 14 years this month and I sure do miss him! Anyone who knew my grandpa knows what a gruff, abrupt manner he had. He could be very intimidating and was definitely someone who demanded and received respect from everyone. Lurking underneath that gruff exterior however, was a loving, generous man. Grandpa adored his kids and grand kids and was always willing to go to extraordinary lengths for those he loved. Which is where the asparagus comes in. 

A long ago Easter with my cousins in Grand Junction
For much of my childhood and even into my young adult years, my family would spend Easter with my grandparents at their home in Grand Junction, Colorado. I loved being there for Easter! I can still picture grandma's beautifully set dining table complete with a lace tablecloth, her best china and silver and her delicious potato salad. My mouth waters just thinking about it. Grandpa always sat at the head of the table and would bark out a quick order to quiet down when it was time to eat. First though, we all joined hands around the table while he said grace. It's been too many years since I've sat around that table and joined hands with my family. It's amazing how such a simple act can be so powerfully full of love and connection. 

Anyway, back to the year of the asparagus. I was in my early twenties and gathered at grandma and grandpa's with my husband, mom and assorted siblings. Early in the day grandpa was headed to the grocery store for a few things and asked me what vegetable I wanted for dinner. Without giving it much thought I said asparagus. Grandpa left and we continued with our morning. Much later grandpa returned home. He'd been gone quite a long time! He came into the kitchen and dropped a huge bunch of asparagus on the counter.  Apparently, it was still a little early in the season for asparagus and he'd gone to several stores searching for it. He eventually ended up driving into Fruita, the next town over, to find some. Because it was early in the season it was also expensive. He paid some outrageous amount per pound for it. When I asked for asparagus I did it without even thinking about its availability that time of year. I just thought it sounded good! I failed to realize that fulfilling my simple request was an act of love for grandpa. He was willing to drive however far was necessary and pay whatever price was asked in order to find what I had asked for. I remember feeling humbled and a little awed by the power of this one simple act. Grandpa wasn't one who was overly affectionate or expressive with his emotions. Mostly, he showed his love through actions. I realized then how enormous his love was for me and for all of his family. If needed, he would go to the ends of the earth to help his family. His was not a love to be taken lightly.

I was out of the country when grandpa died and didn't get to say goodbye to him. It remains one of my life's great regrets. I wish I could have been there to once again tell him thank you for the asparagus and for the many other ways he loved me throughout his life. Thankfully, I have many treasured reminders of his love for me. Grandpa was a great letter writer and I kept most of the letters he wrote me over the years. On my desk I keep a notepad of Denver & Rio Grand Railroad stationary. His business card hangs on my bulletin board next to my sister Julie's, daily reminders of two beloved people that I've lost. And I also have asparagus, one of my favorite springtime meals. I like to eat it lightly steamed, topped with butter, pepper and a whole lot of love and happy memories! 

Monday, March 14, 2016

Dressing Up

Gillian went to her Junior Prom on Saturday. As she begrudgingly posed for the obligatory pictures before heading on her way I couldn't help but think about how quickly time passes. It wasn't too long ago that she was happily posing for pictures in her Easter finery, thrilled as only a toddler can be with her long purple dress and satin gloves. 

She still loves any excuse to get dressed up in fancy dresses. However, she no longer likes having to pose for pictures. Still, I did get her to let me snap a couple with the promise that one day she'll thank me for insisting on documenting the moment with a photograph. Despite her beautiful smile, she won't smile with her mouth open because of her braces. Some day...

She told me she didn't really care about going to Prom, but I'm glad she went. Her boyfriend is already graduated and couldn't take her because of school rules, so I didn't think she would be going. Her date, a friend since Kindergarten, unexpectedly asked her, and she said yes. I was actually quite proud at how skillfully she handled a potentially emotionally fraught situation. She treated both young men very respectfully while at the same time asserting her independence and freedom to do something she wanted to do, all while respecting both relationships that matter to her in different ways. There was zero drama, and anyone who knows teenagers knows there could have been! I know I couldn't have handled the same situation so maturely at her age. 

Here are some pictures from that day. It was was a full day of fun for the group of 24 friends that went together. During the day they all went to play paint ball, followed by group photos in their finery, dinner, the dance, and then going out for ice cream after. 
Doesn't Gillian look like a little kid in this picture?
I love the contrast of this vs. her all glammed up three hours later.
Because it's not real unless it's documented on Snapchat. 
Guess which hand is Gillian's? Yes. She's the 17-year old with the perfect manicure. 
When I asked her about it the next day she said she had fun but didn't really understand why everyone makes such a big deal out of Prom. I mentioned that not everyone lives the charmed life she does, so having the chance to get dressed up and have a fancy night out is really special to many. I laughingly reminded her that most high school juniors hadn't been to the black tie gala fundraiser for the local art center just the week before! I took her as my date that night to one of 'the events' in our town. It was a good night for us together, and a much needed one. 

Last year my talented young artist and fashionista saw the gold foil trimmed invitation to the art gala and breathlessly asked if WE would be going together to her "favorite event." Never mind that she'd never been. She absolutely COULD NOT WAIT  to attend her very first black tie art auction benefit. She planned her outfit months in advance and talked for weeks about how excited she was to go. Then crisis hit. The very day of the art auction last year we had some very serious behavior come to light and I had to make an extremely difficult parenting decision. A hard consequence was in order and I had to tell her she couldn't go with me. We both shed many tears that day. 

Thankfully, this year there were no tears, and Gilian finally got to go to the art auction. She gave her prom dress a practice run and I wore one of my favorite vintage gowns. We both love an excuse to wear a pretty dress! Like mother, like daughter. Most of all, it was a night for us to be together, a treasured opportunity that becomes increasingly rare as she gets older and is building her own life. 

Me and my girl.