Like many of you, I will be spending most of this week in the kitchen preparing Thanksgiving dinner. Editing for Grammarphobes and Flash Fiction Fridays will return next week.
As I roll dough for pumpkin pie and peel way too many potatoes, my mind will inevitably wander to holidays past. My family is smaller now, much smaller than when I was young, with all four grandparents and my mother gone for many years now.
I still remember my father making the headless turkey dance over the sink while he cleaned it out and the smell of my mother’s stuffing cooking on the stove. The grandparents slowly making their way up the three flights of stairs to our apartment. Grandma producing her perfect pumpkin pie, beautiful crust pinched just so.
I wrote this poem about my mother’s father a long time ago and would like to share it with you today as we embark on another holiday season. May your Thanksgiving be filled with family, friends and good food. May you share stories and laughs, wine and desserts. And may we all be truly grateful for these times, because they can be gone, sometimes much too soon.
By Karen Wojcik Berner
“What does everyone want to drink?” I asked.
But no one heard me.
I asked again.
Still no one heard.
He was at it again. Same stories. Different audience.
“...and I remember when we made thirteen trips to California.
Sometimes, we’d sleep in the car, alongside the road. We’d be so crumpled, we had to go wash up in the Texaco station. Nobody bothered ya. Today, you’d get killed.”
He spoke in a loud gruff voice,
For he was hard of hearing.
“Stardust” flashed into his eyes.
“...and in Vegas, I had a system, especially at the craps table. Once, I was on a hot streak.The entire casino came to watch, even Milton Bearle. I met him in the lobby earlier. If I would have won, I would have given it all to my granddaughter.”
He pushed up his glasses,
And rubbed his bald head.
“Time for dinner.”
He got up slowly,
Legs wishboned from arthritis.
“...and I remember when I was an altar boy. The bitter smell of incense filled the church. It was Christmas mass. I was so proud to be able to carry in the crucifix. That was the highest honor you could have, y’know.”
His voice genuflected.
“...and we were so poor, I didn’t have shoes except for Sundays.”
“I hope I didn’t bore you, honey,” he said as he left.
Of course not, Grandpa.