I hadn’t been out of the house for four days; since Sunday in fact, when we went to the city to have lunch with Florentina.
I need to get out of the house, I thought. I had spent the whole morning writing and on the phone trying to make appointments to see Sen. Schumer, Sen. Gillibrand and Representative Nita Lowey when I go to Washington next month to a suicide prevention conference.
Stew Leonard, the grocery store on the border of Hastings and Yonkers, is a favorite of mine. There is something about the place that I find comforting, and the variety of smells, sweet, savory and in between are a pleasure to the senses, mine at least.
The first two carts I tried were hard to push and I set them aside. Looking for a better one, I saw a man taking his shopping out of his:
“Is it a good one?” I asked him, pointing to his cart.
“Oh, yeah, it’s a Cadillac,” he replied with a chuckle and a Bronx accent.
“I’m a Rolls Royce type myself,” I joked. “But a Cadillac is not bad.”
“I was going to give you a Ferrari,” he bantered on.
“Now we are talking.”
“But then I thought it might be too small to fit all your shopping.”
Laughing good heartedly, we continued on our separate ways. The cart was great.
I was smiling to myself thinking of the jovial exchange, when I suddenly noticed that I was smiling. I stopped short. I realized that for the first time since Andrew’s death, I had interacted with another human being without thinking about Andrew. I didn’t know how to feel, or what to think of it. But I did know that had Andrew been with me, he would have chuckled as he had done many times in the same circumstances. But now, muscle by muscle, I felt the smile leave my face and sadness wash over me.
Buying bagels, French Toast and Plain, I remembered the countless times I’d buttered his.
“Would you like me to butter it for you?”
“Yes please,” Andrew would smile, pushing his plate toward me, even now. I mean, not long before he died even though in his twenties, he still liked me to butter his bagel or toast.
Robert had asked me to get him some Teriyaki chicken wings; Andrew would ask for buffalo or original. By the time I left the shop, I was as sad as when I’d left the house, but at least I’d stretched my legs (having parked at the far end of the car park so as to get a bit of a walk) and got some nice bread, olives, bagels and dinner for Robert, Hugh and I, so that I wouldn’t have to cook that night.
Today we are going to make pancakes, the thin ones, crepes, as they are called in French.
In England, Shrove Tuesday, the day before the start of Lent is commonly called Pancake Tuesday. We are celebrating it on a Saturday this year because we couldn’t get everybody together during the week.
We’ve always enjoyed Pancake Tuesday. I make a savory mushroom filling and for dessert we have a choice of combinations such as Nutella, whipped cream with Nutella or with Jam, or lemon and sugar, whatever combination one likes.
When the children were younger I would do the whole thing, make the batter, cook the pancakes and of course everybody else joined in for the eating part. Then, as the children grew up, I would make the batter and Florentina and Andrew would help me cook the pancakes, until gradually I left the whole thing to them, that was fun! This year Robert will have to take over Andrew’s share of the pancake making.
“Don’t worry,” Florentina told him a few days ago. “I’ll teach you, it’s fun.”
It’ll be a few of us. When I checked last night I saw that I needed to get more flour and heavy cream, and I need to get the mushrooms.
So, I’d better be off.