Last night we dined with our dear daughter and son-in-law at their home in the hilltowns of Western Massachusetts. They are both wise, sensitive, creative, compassionate and beautiful souls whom I would cherish even without the bond of blood - but being family makes my love ever more precious. Later this week, we will share another meal with our Brooklyn loved ones - our last time together before they move into a new condo in Sunset Park - and this will be sacred time, too.
The more we feast together, the more I give thanks to God for the love and history we share in both families. There is something renewing about being with my adult children in their homes - observing the intricacies and graces of their ordinary lives - that evokes a unique gratitude. We laugh deeply with one another. We share similar concerns for our world. We love music as well as a variety of the creative arts. We have seen one another at our best and worst. And did I mention feasting? Both women and their mates are gourmet cooks who treat us like royalty by preparing exquisite meals from a range of cuisines whenever we visit.
Last night was a belated birthday supper (we had been away in Ottawa) that included fresh pita, snap peas and baba ganoush; grilled chicken and squash; tomato and cucumber salad only to be finished off with carefully prepared filo dough/lemon custard empanadas (or there abouts.) After stories about recent events, catching-up on our respective summers and crazy observations about our various jobs, we retired to their living room for birthday gifts and more conversation. I was presented with a massive volume containing ALL the background stories to EVERY song Bob Dylan has recorded to date. Di received both a retro-formica cutting table (from their old kitchen) and a year's membership to Mass MOCA (a contemporary art museum just north of us.) These two know us so well.
Having the time - and proximity - to savor our shared love without urgency is holy ground that I never want to take for granted. It has not always been so. For too many years, I was too busy. For some of that time, we lived too far away. Yet I still remember vividly the day each daughter was born: one in a farm worker house in Los Angeles, another in a hippie pad in San Francisco's "Haight-Ashbury" neighborhood. They are both so unique and so dear to my heart in vastly different ways and I still see something of the sweet infant in their maturing womanhood.
In this, my mind turns to William Butler Yeats who once wrote in his: "A Prayer for My Daughter."
I have walked and prayed for this young child an hour
And heard the sea-wind scream upon the tower,
And under the arches of the bridge, and scream
In the elms above the flooded stream;
Imagining in excited reverie
That the future years had come,
Dancing to a frenzied drum,
Out of the murderous innocence of the sea.
May she be granted beauty and yet not
Beauty to make a stranger's eye distraught,
Or hers before a looking glass, for such,
Being made beautiful overmuch,
Consider beauty a sufficient end,
Lose natural kindness and maybe
The heart-revealing intimacy
That chooses right and never finds a friend.
I have lived long enough to see my daughters' kindness - and wisdom - in addition to their commitment to finding and keeping friends. Now, my greatest joy is simply feasting and laughing with them as their lives ripen. And my deepest hope is that should they ever need perspective in whatever lies ahead, they might choose to talk with me about some of the hard things that still remain. We shall see. For now, I know that the blessings have been grace upon grace and far more than I ever deserved.