One day you will do things for me that you hate. That is what it means to be family.
~ Jonathan Safran Foer, Everything Is Illuminated
We pick up a single piece of fish and chips on the way. Gerry’s sister, Barb, is already there when we arrive at the care home for a quiet birthday celebration. A beautifully decorated ice cream cake is tucked away in the freezer for later. Mum is in her brand new wheelchair and a woman is making tweaks and adjustments to the headrest.
Hugs and greetings all around, but little response from the birthday girl. Gerry and Barb set the food out, cutting the fish up and squeezing ketchup onto the side of the plate. I stand at the end of the table and snap a couple of photos to commemorate the day.
The fish and chips are a hit; the ice cream cake, not so much. We three chat amongst ourselves—and with a curious resident who stops by—and assist with getting food on the fork for Mum. She doesn’t respond to questions posed by her children but she obviously enjoys and appreciates the birthday lunch and that is enough. A quiet love settles over the little table. Precious.
Later, we three go out for lunch. Barb pulls a journal, written by their dad during the year they all lived in Antigua, out of her purse and reads a few entries. The siblings reminisce and laugh about the adventures they had. It’s a sweet time that honours parents—one gone, the other soon to follow—who poured out into the lives of their children and others.
In time, Gerry and I leave for the hour and a half drive home with our hearts as full as our bellies. I feel blessed, again and always, by the gift of family.