I’m sitting here, just a few nights before I wake up way too bloody early, load the car, dump off my case of smuggled wine at the check-in counter, stop for the traditional double gin and tonic before boarding and buckling my “Jesus I have to lose weight” ass into my Economy Plus, (thank you miles) seat for the a flight to Chicago O’Hare and then, then on to Louisville Kentucky where on another way too early morning I will be sitting in another uncomfortable seat but this time….this time I will be on a lush lawn, beautiful brick buildings around me, the husband, his family and my closest friends beside me, my smile bright and eyes full of tears as I watch my baby walk in cap and gown and be handed his college diploma from the University of Louisville.
It’s just shy of a year ago that we flew out along with my beloved friends Amy and Roger, (formally called Sexy Bitch on this blog, as per his request. My best friends that are currently serving time in Texas, as per his company’s request) to celebrate Jeremy’s 21st birthday Kentucky style, which is to say stinking drunk on Bourbon. We had an amazing time, laughed and drank way too much, visited distilleries and Amy and I cooked a massive meal for Jeremy, his housemates and friends. A grand Aioli complete with roasted chicken, lamb, potatoes and beets for to slather the garlic goo upon. It was a wonderful time and for me, a very growth full and affirming one.
The morning we were leaving Jeremy walked us all to the car, big beautiful smile of his assuring us that he was gonna be just fine. Hugs and kisses all around before he came to me, longer gaze than the norm for our farewells and a pair of strong arms holding me just a bit tighter. Everyone loaded in the car, I hung back for a moment and watched the once tiny but now man sized frame as it slowly walked back towards the three story Victorian where he lives, his body shrinking the further he got from me. I was feeling the momma sized lump forming in my throat, that almost beyond your control ache to stretch your body out in a bubble around them, protect and absorb any struggles or pain they might endure. The inner battle of that compulsion mixed with the overwhelming pride that comes with watching your grown child walk away from your embrace and back into the life they have begun for themselves. I grabbed the handle on the car door and slung one leg in before taking a deep breath and looking back over my shoulder, one last prideful gaze on my not so little man. Any hope I had of mot losing my shit was lost when my craned neck and one-last-look eyes fell upon his face, his sweet, beautiful face…head turned taking one-last-look back at me and this time, for the first time in the three years worth of visits, it was his eyes that were filled with tears. He may have been walking back to the place he lives but home was leaving and he was feeling it.
I often wonder if my mother ever knew, knew just how much I loved and appreciated all that she did, gave, surrendered and sacrificed for me and on that long tear filled ride to the airport I splayed a lifetime of mental snapshots before me. The dragging of the kitchen chair across the strangely sticky linoleum floor, my stool as I helped her whip up yet another pancake dinner, Jeremy’s tiny fingers and the way they used to wrap around mine, my mother and I dancing to Stevie Wonder’s Sir Duke, feeling my baby’s soft skin brushed across my lips as I kissed his brow, watching Jeremy in his little footie jammies, (Jesus is there anything cuter than those?) lifting his wee body upon the couch to snuggle in next to his grandma while she read one of her beloved mystery novels. By the time we reached the airport I knew that she had to know, any words or gazes that I had not been able to give her had been given when that tiny man stretched his little body out like a bubble to absorb, love and protect us.
Home is about to board a plane my sweet son. We are coming to celebrate you, cover you in hugs and kisses and we are all going to be there to see you take this next gigantic step in your life. I’ve seen you teeter, watched you fall, been here through the award winning and very painful loss of your first true love and I feel compelled to tell you Jeremy, she would be so proud of you. She would have sold body parts to be there if she could. Your grandmother loved you in a way that was so peaceful and powerful for her and you my adorable son, changed her life and brought her joy on a level that none of us could. Without your even knowing it, your kisses, running to her, rubbing the flubbery skin under her chin, you made her feel like the single most important woman alive. No demands, no needs she was unable to meet, looking at your sweet face and seeing the way it lit up when she was near you…you gave both of us something that we spent a lifetime trying to show. There are a million things I need to thank you for but this one, this is one that I will spend the rest of my life trying to repay you for. My father, me, you and our face, I know with all that I am that she felt love each and every time she looked at us. Don’t let that make you anything but proud.
Home is coming Jeremy and we are bringing not only our love and admiration, we are bringing food and celebratory exclamation points, historic libations that paint Our Story. A bottle of Pierre Peters Blanc de Blancs, the first sinful bit of liquid to ever pass your lips. New Years Eve when you were like eight years old, I gave you that one glass to clink and sip with us and you….with your new favorite toy, the night goggles, running around proclaiming yourself, “Falcon Man”. A bottle of German Auslese. (Randy will be picking you one) a salute to the first wine that made you raise an eyebrow and keep reaching for that glass. A bottle of Provencal Rose, a nod to your years of Wine Country Aioli parties and finally tasting Tempier Bandol Rose, with garlic goo and “getting it”. A bottle of Chateau d’Yquem, Christmas and a nod to your love of history….did you know that Thomas Jefferson had oodles of that stuff in his cellar? A bottle of Dagueneau, made by Didier, a man you wanted to meet but never got the chance.
A box of wine shipped as luggage, a woman with a full heart and arms ready to scoop you up, lips ready to once again brush along your brow….a soul ready to thank you in the only way I know how, through food and wine that I hope will induce your own lap full of family snapshots. Pride is far too tiny a word my son….this is