Dinner Under the Tree of Forgetfulness

Submitted into Contest #100 in response to: Write about a character preparing a meal for somebody else.... view prompt

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Fiction Friendship Drama

The slow simmer of the pot of water started bubbling on the stove. Savana grabbed a bag of spaghetti out of the yellow cabinet over the stove. She waited for the rolling boil of the water to begin. Her grandma  always told her to wait for the water to roll of the water like the waves in the sea. Savana knew then and only then was the time to salt the water and put in the pasta. She had done this many times in the past. She had done it many times with her grandmother. Tonight her grandmother was coming over for dinner.  

Savanna’s grandmother wasn’t afraid of the demons which were taking away her memory. She didn’t even fear the madness that she felt sometimes. She saw beyond her illness and the battles it brought  to her. She saw beyond the things that life threw at her and beneath it all she just wanted to love and to be loved by her family. The beautiful souls of her granddaughter and her husband kept her going and kept her strong. 

Savana stirred the long spaghetti noodles with her wooden spoon. The same wooden spoon she had inherited from her grandmother. It was tradition in her family to pass the spoon once you learned how to cook the perfect spaghetti. It took Savana half of her life to accomplish this goal but she did. She was in the kitchen with her grandmother on her 18th birthday and had insisted on making her grandmother a special dinner. Savanna’s grandmother was surprised that her granddaughter wanted to cook for her on this special day. But, she didn’t complain. She sat on the old black steel stool near the counter and she watched her granddaughter cook. She held her breath a few times when Savanna almost skipped a couple of steps making the sauce but she kept her mouth shut and let her continue. Savanna placed her pasta on two plates, her grandmother’s good plates that she only used for company. She saw granny flinch a few times when she was making the sauce and again when she reached for the good plates in the China cabinet. Savana smiled when she served her granny. Her granny, not more than 5 feet tall, almost had to jump from the high stool. She followed Savanna to the dining room and there the two of them sat down. 

Savanna watched closely as granny took the first bite. She held her breath. Granny looked up at her granddaughter and she smiled the biggest widest smile she could. Savanna exhaled. She knew that it was good. After dinner that is when Granny gave Savanna the wooden spoon. Now, 18 years later Savanna was in her own kitchen with the wooden spoon and cooking her Granny’s favorite dinner. 

Granny was now 88 years old. She had good days and bad days. The light in Granny’s eyes, the light of recognition, sometimes  faded. Granny now told Savanna stories about her past when she was a little girl back in Louisiana. She would tell her about how she was the youngest of five girls. Granny didn’t like being the youngest because she always wore her sister, Gloria’s old clothes. Granny knew that each time Gloria outgrew a dress that it was going to go to her. Her mom would say, “Edith, Gloria’s dress is too small now. That girl is growing like a weed. Here you go. Take her dress and put it on and let me see if it needs to be  hemmed.” 

Granny married her  high school sweetheart. They have been married for almost 70 years. That was the best decision she had ever made, marrying Henry. Henry was the smartest boy in their class and what Edith liked best about him was that he could make her laugh. She loved his corny jokes and his little swagger when he walked towards her. She loved the way he smelled. He always smelled like ivory soap. Edith would breathe in the fragrance of him each time she hugged him.  Soon the scent of Ivory soap had become her favorite scent. They eloped right after high school. Edith’s mom wasn’t very forgiving about her not having a big wedding like her sisters.  Edith didn’t care; she married the love of her life her way. She was  the family rebel. Edith always did things her way and even the illness would not change that fact. 

It was almost time for Granny to arrive. Savanna couldn’t wait. She finished cooking the spaghetti and toasted some garlic bread. The table was set with  the good China that her mom had given her the day she graduated from college. It had been Granny’s China too. She placed the vase of daisies in the middle of the table. Daisies are simple but elegant and reminded Savanna of her granny. 

The doorbell rang  and Savanna checked her makeup in the mirror near the door before she opened the door. Edith and Henry, Granny and Pops to Savanna were standing there. Henry and Edith’s hands were clasped together tightly  as always. Henry led his wife inside the doorway which was inches from the small kitchen. The aroma of the pasta sauce was strong and brought familiar smiles to Henry’s and Edith’s faces. They both inhaled as if to savor the moment.  

“Hi, Granny and Pop.” Savanna hugged both of them at the same time in one big bear hug.

“Hey, munchkin.”

“Pop, you know that I used to hate that nickname when I was little. But, now I like it.” Savanna laughed. 

“Well, you know why I called you that, right? I called you that because you remind me of Edith but you were just a smaller version, a munchkin.” 

“That’s the best compliment I have ever gotten.” Savanna gently kissed her grandfather on the cheek.  

“Savanna, that smells so good. What Cha cooking?” Granny asked.

“It’s your favorite. Granny. I’m cooking spaghetti and garlic bread. For dessert I  baked a chocolate cake.” Savanna responded.

“Henry, who is this woman? “

“She’s Savanna. Our granddaughter. She’s cooking dinner for us tonight.” Henry said as he gently kissed his wife’s hand.

“Oh yes, yes, Savanna. I remember. Savanna that’s right. She is cooking dinner for us right?”

“Yes, sweetie, she is. Do you want to sit down?” Henry led his wife to the beige sofa on the other side of the room. He gently helped his wife sit down and he sat down beside her. 

Savanna watched from the kitchen as she put the finishing touches on the pasta sauce. She couldn’t take her eyes off of her grandparents. Henry, with his tall thin build and he was always the gentlemen. Savanna remembered all the stories her grandmother told her about him. Henry always pulled the chair out for Edith before they sat down. He always stood when she left the table to go to the power room when they ate out. He would always walk on the street side of the street and hold her hand when they walked home. Edith loved him for that and much more.  Henry always said it was love at first sight. The second he saw Edith he knew that was going to be his wife. All of his friends thought he was silly, a young fool, but he knew better. Edith was a firecracker. She had long red hair and was barely 5 feet tall. When she entered the room everyone noticed. She had that energy, the kind that makes you stand up and take notice.  She wouldn’t hesitate to tell you when you were wrong and she didn’t hesitate to apologize when she was wrong. She loved her sisters and family fiercely. Henry found that out the hard way when he criticized one of her sister’s dresses. Edith’s big sister, Ellen, wore a lime green dress to church one Sunday and Henry thought she looked like a frog. He made a remark to Edith about the dress and Edith told him what he could do with his opinion of her sister’s dress. Henry never made that mistake again. He learned when to keep his big mouth quiet and when to keep his opinions to himself. 

“Dinner is ready.” Savanna said from the kitchen.

Savana walked to the dining room holding a platter of the spaghetti and set it on the table. Henry and Edith followed.

“Savanna, this is almost as good as your grandmother’s pasta.” Henry said, slurping down the noodles.

“Henry, that’s not the way to eat pasta. Twirl the noodles around your fork. Eat like a gentleman, not like you were raised in a barn.” Edith told her husband as she watched him slurp more noodles in his mouth. 

Savanna looked up at her grandmother and tried not to laugh. 

“Savanna, this is good.”

“Thank you Granny. I used your recipe.” Savanna said, winking.

“Remember the day I passed you the wooden spoon?” 

“Yes, Granny, I do. It was my 18th birthday.” 

“We had chocolate cake too. Aunt May made it. I love her cakes. Do you know that I helped her with the recipe?” Edith asked.

“Guess what granny? I made Aunt May’s chocolate cake for dessert.  I didn’t know that you helped with the recipe. I always thought that Aunt May came up with it on her own. I thought that we could use some chocolate after our pasta dinner.” 

“Brice brought the cake over that day.” Henry said.

“Brice? Who is Brice?” Granny asked.

Savanna was used to the confusion that took over the light in granny’s eyes sometimes and so she gently reminded her that Brice was her brother. Savanna had two brother’s Brice and Brady. Brice was the oldest and Brady was the youngest. 

“Brice is our grandson.” Henry said, wiping some sauce from the corner of Edith’s mouth.

“We have two grandsons, right?” Edith asked. 

“Yes, we have two. Brice and Brady.” 

“ I forget sometimes. I’m sorry.” 

“Edith, that’s okay. We all forget things sometimes. Heck, yesterday I couldn’t remember where I parked the car.” Henry laughed.

“Savanna, I hate to forget things. I hate to forget all the memories I had in my brain. I feel myself fading every day.  I am forgetting more and more. You guys think that I don’t know this but I do. I hate this. I can’t remember my grandkids or even my own kids some days. I had to stop driving because I forgot the way home. I had to call Henry to come and pick me up. Now, I can’t even remember our phone number. The same phone number we had for 20 years.  The other day we were at the store and we ran into my best friend, Nora. I couldn’t remember her name. She’s been my best friend for 30 years and I couldn’t remember her name. I hate that this disease is taking away my memories. Savanna, what am I going to do? There’s no way I can stop it. They say that one day I won’t remember anything. I can’t bear the thought of not remembering you one day or Henry.  I just don’t know what to do. Some days are better than others though and today seeing you has made it a good day.” 

“Granny, all you have to remember is that I love you and if you forget I will remind you that I love you to the moon and back.” 

“To the moon and back. I used to tell you that when you were a little girl. A little wild child.” Edith laughed. 

Savanna laughed too and soon so did Henry. They all laughed so hard that tears ran down their faces. It has been so long since they all had that good kind of belly laugh. 

“Savanna, I brought something for you. It’s in this box.” Edith signaled Henry to give her the box he had sat on the coffee table when they walked in.

“I was wondering what was in that box.” Savanna said looking at the red and blue shoe box tied with a yellow ribbon.

“It’s all the family recipes. I want you to cook them for me every week when I come to dinner. I want to have family meals with you and talk and eat and drink. I want you to remember all the things that I will eventually forget. I want you to remember that even if I can’t express it one day that I love you with all my heart. And don’t tell the others but you are my favorite grandkid. “ 

“Oh Granny. Thank you. We will eat, laugh, be loud, and drink wine every Sunday. I promise. Sunday is our day. And did you really mean that I am your favorite?” 

“Ummm, today you are.” Edith laughed. 

June 26, 2021 18:18

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