“I wanted a perfect ending.
Now I've learned the hard way
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that some poems don't rhyme, and some stories don't have a clear beginning, middle, and end. Life is about not knowing, having to change, taking a moment, and making the best of it, without knowing what's going to happen next. Delicious Ambiguity” ~ Gilda Radner
The majority of my life has been lived with this thought not far from my mind
Not knowing. Having to change. Taking a moment. Making the best. Without knowing what's going to happen next
I remember profoundly difficult seasons when life felt out of control, and I'd have given anything to know what was going to happen next. The craving for any semblance of order, I prayed for tidy, or simply a few answers.
Life's owner's manual, it has to be around here somewhere? Or at least the cliffs notes, the ones with bullet points and footnotes thrown in for good measure.
Certainly, it wasn't too much to ask?
It's Saturday, and I'm slower to wake up that I'd have liked. In my pajamas, I start breakfast. The kitties are extra needy this morning, treats? Open the window? An ice-cube in my water bowl?
One by one, they come for their pets while I take a few moments to sit, eat, and read a few pages of my book.
I'm excited for the day ahead. Nearly two months have passed since I'd last been to visit, the day I'd brought our dog to say good-bye. How I'd wanted to stay longer, to hold the baby, take them out for lunch.
His question, the same as it's been for years
“Mom, will you stay with me a while? I have so many things I want you to see.”
Later that day they tell me of baking adventures
“Last week I tried to bake cookies with lavender. A tsp of baking soda, the recipe had read, but I'd added a Tbsp in a fit of distracted haste. The whole batch tasted and looked like an anthill.”
“We didn't bring those to church.”
“He ate them instead.”
— — —
“Will you stay with me a while? I have so many things I want you to see.”
It's beautiful. It says so much.
Isn't it what everyone longs to ask of the families that we love?
I settle in on the sofa, holding the baby. We make funny faces back and forth.
He's roly-poly with Michelin Man arms and legs. I love their tiny apartment, filled with string lights, and pictures. They show me their photo albums, and I'm thankful for the glimpses into their everyday moments
Where is the latest picture of the three of us? It's missing; a hint of despair
— — —
“I read this week that the best way to have a happy home is simply this: make peaceful, happy memories together.”
I hear this while they're guiding me through a series of Tai Chi movements in the middle of their living room. The tea-cup, they tell me, is the only one they own that resembles a tea-cup. It sits waiting for me off to the side.
“Don't rush through them, Mom; the movements are very slow.”
Little Sam rolls around on the floor at our feet.
“So it is with all of us, our journey begins with some sort of disillusionment, some shaking of the ground. Early on, or not so early on, we get that everything goes; everything changes. These bodies age and get sick and die. Those that we care for pass.
Sometimes it happens in big ways in our lives: we get a positive reading on a biopsy, or someone we love has a serious illness or a relationship crashes. Sometimes it happens in a lot of little ways. We start to understand that there is a lot out of control.
There are two possibilities when we start confronting this truth, this truth of impermanence, that there's really not a self behind the curtain that can keep rigging things to make it work out the way we want it.
One, we scramble, we try harder to control things. You see many people getting tighter and smaller in how they run their lives. They get more anxious and controlling with other people; they get tighter in their lifestyle.
The assumption is something is wrong; the added assumption is this is bad, and in some way, I need to grab on.
We all have our preferred ways of hanging on; certain thought patterns that we're not willing to let go of. Often, they're thought patterns, especially about how things should be. How certain people are doing things wrong, that's what we really hold onto
When we realize it's out of control or changing, we can either grasp on tighter, or we can take refuge in truth. Become aware of what's actually here in the present moment, and simply let it be.”
~ Tara Brach | The Three Blessings on the Journey (Part I) .. here
We talk about them sometimes, the darker years when the ground beneath us seemed to shake.
The years I visited him in addiction centers, homeless shelters, and even the great outdoors. The years when the only thing I knew would happen next, is that I had absolutely no idea what would happen next
It’s was the clearest ambiguity around, the most certain of uncertainties. In this world where all we’re guaranteed is that nothing is guaranteed, I suppose it was the next best thing to a plan.
The years when I realized that our relationship would require enormous leaps out of my comfort zone. That if I waited for it all to feel comfortable, all the years I would miss
For a while, though I did wait. How easy it was to fill my time with the things I could control: the to-do lists, busy (everything), work, and all of the other things I'd rather be doing. The invitations I did accept, mustering a limp smile, and an eye fixed on the clock
That is until I realized there's no gift more beautiful gift than the one right in front of me if I'd only let go. A person who was trying with all of his might to invite me in, offering up all the best he had to offer.
Someone in my life who couldn't wait to show me the hidden treasures in the world he loved. What an honor that truly was
Mom, will you stay with me a while? I have so many things I want you to see.”
“I know your drive home is a long one, but please, will you stay for dinner? We've got the best recipe for Miso soup.
We'll watch part of a movie while it's cooking. Pick out whatever you'd like”
— — —
By the way, we found the missing picture as we were cleaning up after dinner. In the front cover of the album, showing up when we weren't looking.
Right where it had been all along
Salad e Olivieh originates from Russia, where they call it “Salad Olivier.” It's made from diced (or mashed) potatoes, veggies, chicken, and bound by mayo.
While there are several components, it's well worth the effort because it's so much more than a side dish; it's an entire meal. With potatoes, umami from the chicken, and crisp brightness from the tangy cornichons, lemon, and green peas
It's great served with warm flatbread or toasted baguette and mixed greens or an arugula salad with a lemon vinaigrette.
~ Adapted from Jamie Oliver
Salad e Olivieh (Potato Salad with Chicken and Eggs)
- 6 - 8 potatoes (Yukon Gold are great for potato salads. If the potatoes are large, use 6. If they're medium-small, use 8)
- 1 cup cornichons, chopped (or dill pickles)
- 1 small chicken, baked or boiled and shredded - a rotisserie chicken also works well
- 6 hard-boiled eggs, chopped
- ¼ cup freshly squeezed lemon juice (~ 1 lemon)
- 2 Tbsp olive oil + more for serving
- 1 - 2 cups mayo, depending on how wet you like your salad
- fine grain sea salt + freshly ground black pepper, both to taste
- 1 cup peas, fresh or frozen
- bread of your choice, for serving. We like it with either warmed flatbread or a toasted baguette
- lemon wedges, for serving
- chopped chives, for serving
- Peel the potatoes and cut them into 1-2" size pieces
- Boil them until they're fork tender, but not falling apart. Drain and rinse with cold water to stop the cooking process.
- Depending on the consistency you'd like, the potatoes can either be mashed or cut into smaller sizes (like a traditional potato salad)
- In a large bowl, combine the cornichons, shredded chicken, hard-boiled egg, and potatoes.
- Stir to combine
- In a small bowl whisk together the lemon juice, olive oil, and 1 cup of mayonnaise.
- Pour the mayo mix over the potato mix and combine, adding more mayo, depending on your taste. Add salt and pepper, to taste.
- Add the peas, making sure to gently incorporate them so they're not mashed.
- Refrigerate overnight.
- When ready to serve, squeeze lemon and a drizzle of olive oil over the salad and garnish with chives
- Serve on toasted bread or on its own with a side salad