I have to be honest with you guys, I’m not taking this whole “my dad died” thing well. It felt terrible last week and it feels worse today so to deal with my grief I’m going to just keep telling stories. I’ve added a category called “Betheboy Dad Stories” to keep track of these as I post them. Click the “Betheboy Dad Stories” link at the bottom of this post to read more.
Sundays At Home
If you ever found yourself at a the red brick house that my great-grandmother owned on Long Island you wouldn’t leave hungry, especially not on a Sunday. On Sundays the sauce went on the stove early, probably around 6 a.m. and when I arrived with my father, brother and sister around 11 a.m. the house was filled with something more than just the aroma of the sauce; it was filled with the feeling of comfort, of warmth and the knowledge that wherever we may have lived the other six days of the week this was our home for the day. This scene had been repeating itself since long before I was born, since the late 50’s when my great grandparents children began having kids of their own. By the time I was born Sunday dinner served about 25 people and it continued to grow until my great-grandmother passed away when I was 19 years old. In all those years people came and went, people passed away and new additions joined the family but no matter what, there was the sauce simmering on the stove on a Sunday to make sure that no one went home hungry.
After my great-grandmother died there was no longer a central meeting place for us all and the family splintered off into their own smaller groups, each left to develop their own traditions for Sunday. For my father this meant of course making the sauce, while he was making it for fewer people the years of watching his grandmother taught him well. By the time I woke up on Sunday morning the sauce was already simmering on the stove even though it would be hours before anyone sat down to eat. On most Sunday mornings there would be a movie on in the background in the a.m. something like Patton, JFK or anything starring John Wayne and while the movie played he stirred the sauce as it simmered and filled the house with that same feeling we grew up with.
Today I live in Los Angeles, miles and miles from the places I grew up in but like my father before me I watched what happened on Sundays and every few weeks I repeat the ritual. The fact that I adopted the sauce ritual made my father very happy. On the old version of this blog he even commented that he got a little teary eyed when he read about it. About three weeks before my father passed away I was making sauce for pasta on a Sunday. My dad had emailed me that morning before the Jets played the Patriots to predict a Jets win and when the game ended and the Jets had won I called him. We chatted for a few minutes about the game before the conversation turned to the kitchen:
It’s too bad you’re not here, I have the sauce on in the kitchen.
– With sausage or meatballs?
-Nice, you better get back to it.
Heading to the kitchen now, I love you. I’ll talk to you soon.
-Love you too, be good.
I hung up and went back to the kitchen to check on the sauce. I was unaware that it would be the last time my father and I would talk but as far as goodbyes go it feels okay to me .