Thursday, April 9, 2009

Saint-Emilion 1976

When Ben and I were first married - no. I must go back further.

The weekend Ben and I met, when I was twenty-five and as-yet-unbetrothed, a huge concern of my eldest relatives, I completely pissed off my Mom and extended family by opting to go to a friend's weekend-long graduation party instead of my Grandpa's 80th birthday celebration taking place in Montreal, Canada, a very long way off from where the friend's party was held.

Now if I hadn't gone to the party - Ben's best friend from life was the graduate in question - than I would not have met him. I would not have felt the earth move when we shook hands, or called my Mom after the weekend ended to say "I just met the man I'm gonna marry; how was your weekend?"

Fortunately, we held our wedding two years later to the day, and so we got to celebrate my Grandpa's 82nd birthday with all of my family together.

Then, as newlyweds, we drove up to Montreal, along with my brother Rob and his new wife, Suzanne, to visit our grandparents. It was a fun trip at the time, and now looking back more than twelve years later, it is even sweeter because it turned out to be our last visit with my grandparents that was not tainted by illness or loss. Also the visit was before babies, so we were still footloose and fancy free.

I don't know if you have a special relationship with any of your extended family, but I have special relationships with nearly all my Mom's family - and my Grandpa was the special-est of all. Going to visit with him and my Grandma, taking time out of our busy twenty-something lives, was a real treat, not the chore that you might imagine; the number of years between our ages meant only that my grandparents had lots more good stories to share than we young people did, and more gardening and cooking experience that we could learn from as well.

When we awoke on the Saturday morning of our visit, Grandpa was mortified to tell us that during the night, something had gone wrong with the pipes, and a plumber was on his way over to fix it. My grandparents were so upset, their weekend with the grandchildren interrupted by bad plumbing!

To get to the pipes, many closets were emptied; clothing and canned goods that had gone years without seeing the light of day were pulled out and dusted off. And that's when we found out that the pipe problem had a silver lining: a bottle of red wine from 1976. An absolutely superb bottle of red wine, as it turned out, from the year that I was five and my brother was three.

We said, "Wow - you guys should save this for a special occasion!" My grandparents smiled, wondering, what could be more special than this? So we shared the wine that night along with my Grandma's fantastic spaghetti and meatballs.

In the intervening decade-plus, both grandparents grew ill, and passed away, and we have had our children and watched them grow; in truth, the boys remind me very much of my Grandpa. Ben and I, and Rob and Suzanne, reminisce about them often, occasionally remembering sharing that great bottle of wine - still, I had almost forgotten about it when we helped Rob and Sue move into their new house last weekend, and found the empty bottle sitting on top of their dining room table.

From Spring 09

I asked, "is this the bottle?" My brother answered enthusiastically that yes, in fact, it was - and suddenly I was sitting at my grandparents' dining table, newly married, the taste of the wine and good food in my mouth, the feeling of being together with our grandparents fresh in my mind. I am so glad that my brother kept that bottle; it brought back not just the good memory of that weekend but also a tangible feeling of joy, that I have had such people in my life, and that they live on in successive generations.

If this is a holiday weekend for you, then I hope you celebrate it with those that you love... and if it isn't a holiday weekend for you, well then I still hope you celebrate it with those you love.


Jena said...

How beautiful. Your story brought tears to my eyes. It's good to be reminded to savor the time we have with the ones we love. Thank you.

Anonymous said...

Incredibly lovely story. I was close with all four of my grandparents (2 are still alive!), and have so many incredible memories like that. Strangely enough, my boys only have one living grandparent, and I feel sad for them that they won't have that same opportunity. Thanks for sharing!!

Dana @ Our Sunny Side said...

What a beautiful story. I too have tears in my eyes. I was very close to my Granddad and have lots of sweet memories sitting on the couch together reading the funnies and doing his favorite I often wonder what memories my children will hold dear to them. Thanks for sharing this story.

Anonymous said...

Karen - how do yo do it? I learn something new about you every time I read your blog -- I envy your relationship with your parents - and your ability to write about it. Thank you for sharing. Love you! De

The Stone Age Techie said...

Thanks, girls - I was so glad to share this story, remembering it after all this time felt so good!