Wednesday, September 5, 2012

Absence

I stood over the pot, the aroma wafting around my head, and inhaled.  I dipped a spoon and then drew it out.  I touched my tongue to the spoon, the flavor flowing onto my taste buds. I shook my head. Something vital was missing, and I could not put my finger on it.  The lack was crucial. Without it, I knew my chili would never be as good as my grandmother's.  It had to be perfect today.

"Arghhh!" I was venting my frustration when the binding on my grandmother's recipe book cracked loudly, startling me.  I paused, my eyes landing on tiny handwriting on the bottom of the page. Had that always been there?

"Add two cups GRANDPA'S GO JUICE."

I fired up my laptop, but could find no mention of Grandpa's Go Juice.  I sat there, feeling my grandmother's absence keenly, until my parents and siblings arrived with my dying grandfather.   At 97, Grandpa slept more than he was awake. He perked up at the glorious smell of his favorite food.

"You made your grandma's chili!" he said happily.

"I tried, Grandpa," I confessed. "The recipe said to add something called Grandpa's Go Juice, but I don't know what that is or where to get some. I'm sorry."

My grandfather's shoulders began to shake, and he bent low in his wheelchair, coughing.  I cringed as my mother went to his side to turn on his oxygen.  Was he upset that I ruined the chili?   I was horrified to think his last visit to my house would end in such a disappointment.  Finally, Grandpa sat up.

"Grandpa's Go Juice! That woman!" Grandpa's breath came in wheezy gasps as he tried to speak.  We all gathered around to hear the answer, once he was calm enough.

"Go Juice is Whisky!!"  Grandpa finally said, smiling beatifically. "Your grandma always said that Whisky made me crazy. She called it my 'Go' juice."







ABSENCE (noun)

1
: the state of being absent
2
: the period of time that one is absent
3
I do not know if whisky would improve the taste of chili, but now I am hungry. This is fiction, by the way.  My mother's parents are still living, and I don't think that my grandmother ever used a recipe book.  She knew her recipes by heart, and when the dementia hit her, she pretended that she still knew them, and we all pretended the same thing until her cooking became singularly unpalatable.

16 comments:

  1. I'm guessing beer but I'm writing this right after I read "Grandpa's Go Juice" so now I'm going back to finish reading and see if I was right (I didn't cheat, just sayin')

    I was WRONG but I LOVE this story! Yep, that stuff 'ill make you crazy. I always say stay away from the brown stuff! Fantastic story, Tina!

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  2. This is a wonderful story. I love the suspense you created.

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  3. Such a vivid story. I could picture him in his chair trying to contain himself enough to explain.

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  4. What a wonderful story. It was written with such emotion that i thougt it was true.

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    1. Thank you--that is what I was hoping for!

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  5. Ugh--I just now read your postscript, telling us this is fiction. Well, then, it's amazing fiction. This is lovely. Go Grandpa! Thanks for linking up.

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