We are heading north in a few days to spend time with my parents. “We,” meaning my two children and their partners. “Children,” meaning adult offspring. Which means I am just along for the ride. Some of everything I taught my kids comes into play on these trips: Which songs make for good road songs; which of the two available gas stations in 221 miles is the one to count on; how to arrive at Gramma’s house without the scent of fluffy tacos on your breath. We know she will be waiting with seven meals planned in the space of three meals, but the tradition of sneaking in a fluffy taco cannot be denied.
And we know, too, we will be seeing Oma, my kids’ paternal grandmother. We still love each other even though some years ago I left her son. And because it isn’t enough we will be served seven meals at my mother’s house in twenty-four hours, Oma and Family will squeeze in three more for us during that same time period.
The grace of living runs through her, as it does my parents. Above, my father’s Autumn Moon. Below, the poem I wrote about Oma and Opa a few years ago:
Interview with a Kulak from 1937
she buries money in the backyard
never writes a check
she closes her window during coffee talks
with her closest friend
Oma says no when I ask her to tell
but what about when
she scolded me
she knew the rumble
when we felt it, before we saw
the tank cross the Lockwood Bridge
searching for the Veterans’ Day parade
marching through downtown
how she twisted
my hand in hers
her rosary to me
though her Bible sits in sunlight on her table
she remembers hiding
wrapping it in burlap beneath floor boards
her father’s boot
between it and a soldier’s gun
I hope the tank will come our way
we can’t tell
which way that tank will turn and so
we shouldn’t stay.
For more info on “kulak”, click here.
For more info on what sort of good food my mom is whipping up for us, click here.