Cutting a grapefruit on Christmas morning. hearing my mother’s voice reminiscing about her Grandma Kay- “She used to broil a grapefruit for me every night, sprinkle it with sugar serve it with a little steak and one hot Jiffy roll. It was just the yummiest thing ever.”
She loved her Grandma Kay enough to make up for not loving her own mother who ate her grapefruit cold with one of those special grapefruit spoons serrated on one side with a napkin in her lap reminiscing about why she never liked her own mother who failed to broil her a single grapefruit. I always nodded with commiseration instead of asking how she failed to notice, during her moments of resentment, that she herself had neglected to broil a single grapefruit for her own daughter, serving instead inedible things, meals you had to be grateful to be alive in order to enjoy.
I remember years ago my grandmother brought me to her mother’s grave. I held her arthritic elbow as she reached down to place a couple rocks on her mother’s headstone, reminding me again how she wasn’t a fan. And I nodded with commiseration, never imagining for a moment I would soon be visiting that same headstone to bury some of my own mother’s ashes next to her beloved Grandma Kay.
And now three generations of women are gone. And I am left, the continuation of all they left behind eating my own grapefruit, neither broiled nor with fancy spoon. Just a paring knife. And a sore throat made worse by its bitterness in this moment alone in my kitchen thinking about Christmas wondering about resurrection hearing my mother’s voice once again- “Honey, even if heaven is just in your imagination, is it really the end of the world? If you think about it, aren’t most of your relationships on earth merely figments of your imagination anyhow?”
“Should that give me comfort??”
“(Laughing.) Honey, eat your grapefruit.”
So I eat my grapefruit. One of several that arrived at my doorstep in a box. Sent to me by an archbishop of all people. One of the most kind people I have ever met. Perhaps this is what lives on- Gifts of kindness that pass through the hands of human beings, generation after generation. Even through the bitterness of this grapefruit, I can taste its sweetness.