In my last post, I made reference to the odd connection of cooking to caring in my native Newfoundland. My reminiscing brought me back to a cold, windy and very rainy night in August. I was 18 and riding my motorcycle halfway across the province toward my home in St. John’s. As most 18 year-old males, I was particularly stupid when it came to planning. I soon found myself at 10PM and still 4 hours away from home, soaked to the bone and shivering so hard that I could hardly keep control of the bike. Running the risk of hypothermia, I decided to make a one-hour detour to the home of my grandparents in Bonavista Bay. I pulled in after 11PM, well after my grandparents had gone to bed, and pounded on the door. The door opened and there was the beaming face of my grandad. He showed no sign of surprise at my presence there, as if it was simply normal for me to show up unannounced at near midnight. I was immediately welcomed into a still-hot kitchen and within minutes was elbow deep in homemade chicken soup. All the while, Grandad hovered, his smile so wide he looked almost angelic. Tickled pink that he could be there for me when I needed him the most.
This vignette has stuck with me. And whenever I think of my grandfather, it is this face that always comes to me. It is how I will always want to remember him.
Being prompted to explore my past, as the Year of Austere has given me occasion to do, I realize that there are lessons to be had. Sometimes, we must push through the preconceptions and force ourselves to better understand where we have come from, separated from the criticisms that we so easily throw at the past.
I am also reminded of the impact of kind deeds upon my life. When I think of my own mother in her kitchen, and my grandfather, the love they showed me came through multiple paths, some less obvious than others. Whether a hug or a bowl of hot soup under a watchful and loving gaze, it was this love that contributed to who I am today. And I have no doubt that the karma my granddad had collected throughout his long life has borne him away on very happy winds indeed!