Three years.... sometimes, it seems like forever, sometimes, I pick up the phone to call him, surprised not to hear a ring, a fumbling, his voice yelling, "HOLD ON!! HOLD ON!!" while he sorted out which end he was to talk into, trying to turn down the TV, changing the cable by mistake, cursing and yelling and I'd have to go over or send one of the kids to straighten it all out.
He could be an ass or a hoot, depending on the day, even before he was ill.
My father was Sicilian... oh, he was half Irish background, too...but, according to his mother, the Irish DNA sorta slipped through the genetic cracks, leaving him pure Sicilian. He looked it, as does The Investment. I'm more on the Irish side of things... hazel eyes, white skin... they are dark, dark eyes, black hair. Dad also inherited the gift of mangi, and I did take that one on full bore.
You never went to my Mawma's without leaving with a covered dish... I'm fairly sure she supported Reynolds single-handed. She'd wash bits of foil, then reuse them to cover dishes. We'd drive up from New Orleans, arriving at after hours of driving, and she'd have a full on meal... "Oh, you must be starving! Mangi! Mangi!!" And, we did.
I'm startled no one ever died of clogged arteries by the age of 10.
Pasta, stuffed peppers, ravioli, salad... all at 1AM, just a little something for the babies, who were falling asleep in their plates.
I learned the joy of Thanksgiving, my Dad's favourite holiday. Oh, he liked Christmas, because I make the best standing rib roast you'll ever have. No brag; fact. I'd bake a big ham on Christmas Eve, and create amazing pain perdu with Grand Marnier and an apple/pecan sauce on Christmas morning.
He and I also made delish fruitcakes... yes, fruitcakes. My gran's recipe.... ripe with whisky, so ripe you could smell them outside of the garage where we stored them. Our belief was a shot for the cake, a shot for us, one for the cake, one for us... By the end of fruitcake day, we were very, very happy. Rich and pale and full of nuts and dried fruit...the cakes and us.... butter, sugar... ...again, clogged arteries were not to be found. Go figure.
Thanksgiving...now that, that that was our speciality. We'd sit and plan and examine turkeys and buy yams and potatoes and sour cream and butter, oh! the butter! Paula Dean learned from my father.... and, as Dad grew older, more feeble with Alzheimer's and his body started to give way, I did the dinners alone.
He would start talking about them in September, interspersing them with his other favourite topics-- Judge Judy and his body functions. To see a man who had three degrees in things from Mathematics to Archeology slip to this was difficult. He remained a gentleman... always called me to discuss his wardrobe... ironed shirts tucked into his khaki pants, his handkerchief in his pants pocket. He walked with a cane at the end, still holding the doors open for ladies, still pulling my hand, or HRH's, through his arm on occasion... always walking on the curb side of the walkway.
Oh, I make a wonderful turkey. He'd come over, and watch as I made up the brine, holding the bag when I put the turkey in, following me as we shoved it in the extra 'fridge downstairs, having an illicit glass of wine to celebrate. Brine it three days, rinse, stuff and bake... it would be crispy and perfect and he'd slap any one's hand that strayed near the skin. We'd have the china and silver and linen and food everywhere, and he'd be happy in his environment, snore through a nap, take home foil covered left overs.... then it was turkey soup and Christmas menus.
We threw all the food out without ever cutting into anything in 2005. I've not cooked Thanksgiving since. That's been difficult, because, well, I nurture. It's what I do best... cook or knit a lumpy scarf or be there as I can. I can't look you in the eye very well, I am annoying as hell, I can't talk without over talking you at times, I can't hold serious when I'm overcome because it makes me twitch. What I can do is invite you in, give you a plate, and say....
"Mangi!" and hope you realise that means I love you. I adore you. I'd give anything to make your life easier, happier.
Mangi, Dad. I miss you.