Friday, April 7, 2017

Reminders

sorting books

meyer lemon juice

I've been sorting through the last of my dad's stuff and it's so bittersweet. We took care of his clothes and things right away, but I kept putting off his library. Nothing feels as personal to me as books and it's just so hard to make those choices. His cookbooks are particularly heartwrenching - I have to flip through each one and look at the stains and notations, and then sometimes grocery lists and recipes clipped from the newspaper fall out and suddenly I'm transported back to a particular week in his life. We both loved to cook and we would often have entire phone conversations about what we were making for dinner, so I remember talking to him about some of these recipes. It's so strange to be seeing them this way.

My dad had planted a Meyer lemon tree in his yard a few years before he died. He babied it and worried about it and waited (incredibly impatiently) for it to start bearing fruit, updating me almost weekly on the progress it was making. It had its first big crop just a few months before he was hospitalized for the last time, two years ago. That winter he had been sending us home with bags of lemons and was so thrilled when I used some of them to make the cupcakes for my sister's baby shower. We were all so excited to meet the baby, and so heartbroken when Dad died less than a month before she was born. This year my niece turned two and the week before we went up to Berkeley I picked some Meyer lemons from his tree and made those cupcakes for a belated birthday celebration. It felt like he was there too. It's funny, these threads that pull through your life, keeping you connected to the people you love even when they're gone.

My absolute favorite vanilla cupcake recipe is here, but I used the lemon curd recipe from here and I pair it with either a German buttercream (my personal preference) or a Swiss meringue buttercream (which I did this time because I needed to use up all the egg whites leftover after making the lemon curd).

16 comments:

  1. I love this. Thank you for writing.

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  2. Losing someone is so painful, but it really is such a treasure to have someone like that in your life. Seeing the photo of the books reminded me of my dad, an avid fly fisher who loves tying flies. I'm glad you have these memories and mementos to look back on your years together!

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    1. Awwww - dads that tie flies are the best! I just wish I'd been better at fly fishing. I never got the hang of it but we still have all his equipment. Luckily D appears to be more talented in that area.

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  3. Beautiful! I love, and have loved, your blog for so long. Please keep writing! <3

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    1. Thanks, dear! I can't see myself giving up this space and I love writing here, even if it's more sporadic than it used to be.

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  4. When my grandfather died, I was the one who sorted through his books. I didn't want to get rid of a single one...kept as many as I could. They remind me of things we talked about when I was little, or subjects that were dear to him. I even kept his math book, and I pretty much hate math...

    Thanks for sharing this.

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    1. It's so hard! We don't have space for more books but right now I just have stacks around the house. I did force myself to get rid of *some* of his old textbooks, but it was hard, so I get hanging onto the math book!

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  5. I'm still finding pieces of my father. Mostly in baseball, in the pens that he used (the one piece of him that I have taken from my mother's house), and often in food. I remember having a transcendent sundae made with rhubarb (his favourite) ice cream and only being able to think about how much he enjoyed it.

    There's a lovely quote-cum-art from the artist Robert Montgomery, "the people you love become ghosts inside of you and like this you keep them alive." Sending you love and strength.

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    1. Love to you, friend. And that quote is beautiful.

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  6. I'm convinced our loved ones are always with us <3

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    1. Thanks, Evelyn. It does feel that way.

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  7. i really loved lucy kalanithi's new york times essay on how her relationship with her husband continued after he died, and your words about your dad have that same grace. how pleased he would be to know that his tree is still providing for you. i am so sorry he isn't there to see it, my dear friend.

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    1. Thanks, L. Such a great essay. They are both such beautiful writers and I end up re-reading their pieces all the time.

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  8. This was so beautiful. Thank you.

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