My mother used to do that. She said it made the coffee less bitter. I said she should use a little less coffee and it wouldn't be so bitter.
"Oh, but your father likes his coffee strong," she'd say.
"But, it's still bitter," I'd say.
"Oh, but not as bitter as if I didn't add the salt."
After awhile, I started buying my coffee at the local Dunkin Donuts on my way to work.
It's funny what you remember about people after they die.
My father used to spend most of his Saturday mornings rebuilding the fuel pump in the car. Swear to God. Or, at least, that's what he said he was doing.
That was after he'd taken my mother to the grocery store. After they'd return and all the groceries had been put away, he'd take the trash to the dump.
He loved doing that. Going to the dump was one of the highlights of his Saturday. He'd talk to the guys who worked there. Sometimes, they would find something they thought he might be interested in. They'd put it aside for him, knowing he would be there every Saturday morning, and he'd bring it home.
This was a cause for great rejoicing in my house. "Look what I got at the dump," my father would announce as he held up a nicknack, or a porcelain tea cup and saucer, or a lamp, or a television set or radio which he'd later disassemble and save for parts.
"Bring it here and I'll wash it in Lysol," my mother would say. She washed everything in Lysol, which she kept on the shelf next to the large box of Oxydol, a huge can of Pledge, a large bottle of Murphy's Oil Soap, and her trusty refillable spray bottle of Windex.
Every good worker has their own tools of the trade.
Mother would wash down my father's treasure, muttering the whole time, "These people obviously didn't go through the Depression. They don't know the value of things. I don't know what's wrong with people these days. No values....no work ethic....."
She'd do this in between doing loads of laundry and other "Saturday chores" - like polishing shoes or ironing pillow cases and handkerchiefs - while my father would go out to spend the rest of the day rebuilding the fuel pump.
I would see him through my bedroom window, bent over the open hood of the car which he parked just outside the garage where the light was better. Besides, the garage was filled with his tools of the trade - and boxes of the stuff he'd gotten from the dump.
I distinctly remember when car manufacturers stopped making fuel pumps. It was a sad day in my house. Still, my father would be out there, every Saturday morning after his trip to the town dump, wrench in hand.
"Dad," I'd say, "What are you doing? That car doesn't have a fuel pump."
"Well," he'd say, never lifting his head from the inside of the car, "things get loose". And, he'd keep on tinkering. I don't think he really knew what else to do.
This morning, when I looked out the window to check on my car, for half a second I swore I saw the hood of my car open, my father's form bent over into it. Tinkering.
Maybe it was him.
Maybe it's just that it's All Saint's Day.
One of the collects in the Burial Office in the BCP (p 492) begins with this prayer, "O God, who by the glorious resurrection of your Son Jesus Chrsit destroyed death, and brought life and immortality to light....".
I believe those words, and these, from the preface at Holy Eucharist, "... For to your faithful people, O Lord, life is changed not ended . . ."
Life is changed. Not ended.
I believe that with my whole heart.
As I've gone about my morning, from time to time I can hear my grandmother's voice singing one of her favorite fados - a Portuguese folk song of lament which speaks of one's destiny or fate.
|Saudade (1899), by Almeida Júnior.|
It describes a deep emotional state of nostalgic longing for something or someone that one loves and which is apart. It often carries a repressed knowledge that the object of longing might never return. It's related to the feelings of longing, yearning.
That's really what I'm feeling on this All Saint's Day: saudade.
Wiki describes it best:
Saudade was once described as "the love that remains" or "the love that stays" after someone is gone. Saudade is the recollection of feelings, experiences, places or events that once brought excitement, pleasure, well-being, which now triggers the senses and makes one live again.My faith in the resurrection is strong but so is my saudade.
It can be described as an emptiness, like someone (e.g., one's children, parents, sibling, grandparents, friends, pets) or something (e.g., places, things one used to do in childhood, or other activities performed in the past) should be there in a particular moment is missing, and the individual feels this absence.
In Portuguese, 'tenho saudades tuas', translates as 'I have saudades of you' meaning 'I miss you', but carries a much stronger tone. In fact, one can have 'saudades' of someone whom one is with, but have some feeling of loss towards the past or the future.
I think that's utterly, perfectly human. And, deeply Christian.
Life is a precious gift, which is why, when it's gone, "the love that remains" triggers the senses and makes one live again.
As I drink my slightly-salted morning coffee, I hear my grandmother's voice and catch glimpses of my father, tinkering over his car.
The coffee is not bitter, but then again, my coffee never is. My mother's was, but not to her. Or, at least, not that she would ever admit. It was the way she learned to tolerate and live with the bitterness that was often her daily drink.
My grandmother's voice is still high and thin and plaintive, recalling her homeland as well the land she made her home but never quite fit in.
And, my father is still the very picture of vigilance and attentiveness to the small, seemingly insignificant details in life, rescuing that which others had tossed aside, seeing the value and the potential in what others considered trash.
These are lessons learned of lives lived as best they could.
Together, they form a trinity of remembrances of my soul on this day of all saints.
Yes, we are "... earth to earth, ashes to ashes, dust to dust....", and so our mortal souls yearn and recollect and long in saudade.
The gift of the resurrection and the joy of our faith is the love that remains.