"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! 


  1. Such a sweet story. He does sound like he was one of a kind. Thank you for the lovely portrait of him. :-)

  2. Keicha, this is one of the most beautiful posts I've read. Your grandparents -- both of them -- sound terrific but your grandfather went above and beyond! I, too, love asparagus but simply because it tastes so good. You have so very many reasons to make it your favorite! He indeed sounds like a selfless, kind and thoughtful man and what a model to have in your life. I love the idea of the business cards on your board. That's perfect!

  3. As I told you, your post had me in tears. You have written such a beautiful account that portrays the generous nature my dear daddy had. I miss him so much. Thank you for reminding him of all the reasons I miss him: his devotion and love for family, his selfless desire to provide a request, his gruffness on the outside and his teddy bear inside, his humor, his desire to have family around him. I was lucky to have him for my daddy. I loved him dearly.


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