We took Christmas dinner to Floyd in southern Pennsylvania yesterday. Although he said he was continuing to feel “tired” most of the time and had a bit of trouble breathing (probably a lingering effect of the pneumonia he suffered before Thanksgiving), he seemed more alert and active than what he was at Thanksgiving. We’re never sure if he enjoys the meals that Jody prepares, but he always finishes everything and is pleased that she packages up the leftovers for him.
Yesterday, we had beef bourguignon, brussels sprouts and mashed potatoes (with parsnips). He was fascinated when Jody pulled out her mini-torch to caramelize the turbinado sugar on top of the crème brûlée. We quoted from an old Julia show where a guest chef held up her industrial-sized torch and said, “No one messes with a woman with one of these.”
Sometimes he’s a bit cryptic which leaves us wondering. Yesterday a little after noon he just announced out of the blue, “Three and one-half hours.” Later, he told us that he and Mildred were married on Christmas Day at four-o’clock in the afternoon in 1938. He then laughed and said, “Don’t ask me to do the math.” I did and told him we’d drink (he with water and Jody and I with sparkling cider) a toast to their seventy-sixth anniversary.
When it was time to leave, he put his jacket on and came out with us. In the past, he said it was part of the “three steps of decency” to greet your guests on their arrival and walk them to their car on departure. The other step that Mildred had instilled in him is to extend warm hospitality when guests are in your home. This time he opened the garage on our way out and called Jody back. From his trunk he pulled out three plastic bags of Golden Delicious apples he had recently purchased at a nearby orchard. Mildred had always used them when she baked apples. At Thanksgiving, Jody had used Red Delicious to bake the apples we took. We all laughed and hoped they’d keep in time for our February visit to celebrate his ninety-ninth birthday.
He stood by the side of his garage and smiled as he waved good-bye. Doesn’t get much better than that.