As Simple as Grapefruit

This morning my little one wanted grapefruit for breakfast- actually her first choice was Cool Whip because who doesn't want Cool Whip first thing in the morning- and it is one of those food items she just can't manage on her own yet. Sitting on the counter to keep me company, she asked about every step- cutting it in half, choosing which side to start with, using the special knife to make the sections to eat, adding the little sprinkle of sugar to the top. And as I stood there I was hit by a memory of grapefruit being cut at another counter that I can't go back to anymore.

My Nanny and Papa were married for more than 50 years and she was determined in the later years to keep them both healthy. I remember my sister and I sitting in the stands of the gym at the YMCA while they walked with other couples their age, and breakfasts changing from eggs and bacon and the whole Southern lot to grapefruit and toast. One of their mundane conversations  from one of the mornings still echoes in my mind as my Papa chose a grapefruit and began to cut it in half. 

 "Well, baby," he said, "let's see if I can get this thing cut even this time." Knife slicing through the fruit, hitting the counter, the two halves falling to the side. "Nope, not this time...I guess we will try again tomorrow..." They share a little smile and he chuckles.

It wasn't a  life changing conversation. It wasn't deep thoughts, or personal secrets of how to have a lasting marriage, so why did this one moment of the daily interaction in a marriage affect me so deeply? It was a glimpse into the personal part of a relationship, a little view into the private side of two people who have built a life together, who have weathered years, and heartbreaks, and joys and still have the small moments everyday of sharing a smile over the impossibility of splitting a grapefruit into two perfectly equal parts... the everydayness of life shared again and again and again over decades and still wondering at something small. 

We don't normally think of our parents' or grandparents' relationships in this way, or at least I did not. For us, in our family, they are just a fact of life, stability, a foundation for those of us who are products of them to stand on and build on and move forward from. But for a small second, I had the thought, "They are friends and they have something between them that I know nothing about." That realization was just a flashing thought but strong enough to have lasted until now, years later, at my own counter cutting grapefruit for my child.

Right now I am in a role in my own marriage that I haven't been in before. My sweet husband fell last week and broke his ankle, requiring surgery this week for 2 screws to hold it together so he will heal. He is in a lot of pain and basically can only sit on the sofa with his leg propped up, so I am the care taker of the household until he is up on his feet again. It is tiring, but I can tell you, there is a pleasure in making sure that he has everything he needs and trying to make him as comfortable as I can. As small as it seems, I take joy in filling his cup with cold water, freshening up the sofa when he gets up for a break. It has reminded me of how quickly life can turn, how one moment you may be laughing with your family and the next your bread winner is on the ground and your thoughts are on how will be business be run and the bills be paid? Our little setback is temporary. The ankle will heal and he will be back to being as good as new- and I realize that every minute people are hit with more serious and permanent heartbreaks and diagnoses. 

But it has been enough to make me appreciate the kind of love that I am blessed to have, the kind of friendship that I am so privileged to have my marriage founded on, the kind of bond that I am the third generation to experience in my family. 

We take care of each other. 

It might be in the big things, making sure the roof is over our heads, or it might be in the little things, like having clean underwear in the drawer after a shower. It could be in sitting beside the hospital bed when I had a hysterectomy or it could be in making sure his glass of water has just the right amount of flavoring in it.

It could be cutting the fruit into perfect halves for breakfast.

I am grateful for this reminder of the "us" that exists beyond being parents, or any other of the roles we have to play. That making this last, making this life together is yes, the deep issues, the hard decisions, the forgiveness and the mercy and the learning to be one instead of two...but sometimes it is as simple and as plain as grapefruit.


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