The countdown to Molly’s departure for Peru started a week ago. With only one weekend left, and after nine months of negotiating the challenge of life anew with an adult child who had moved back home, I was now planning every meal as if it was the last supper, considering every hour together a precious gift. We threw care away, had homemade pizza, beer, and ice cream two nights in a row. Simply because it was so good the first night we didn’t want to wait to have it again. Crust that was made with love and devotion, topped with the simplest of just ground tomato, basil from the garden, and fresh mozzarella.
Making pizza seems simple. But there are so many nuances and tweaks that can make all the difference. The dough is time consuming, requiring four hours to proof, and still would not come out the way it is supposed to, light and airy. I found myself reminiscing about how essential it is to have a stone baking slab like the one I still use, bought when she was just a baby and carried faithfully to each new home. How I have to adapt to kneading this particular dough by hand with a spatula for the fifteen minutes because I don’t have a stand mixer. Fifteen minutes devoted to turning the wet dough over and over again in the bowl while contemplating another goodbye. Kneaded this way probably isn’t enough, the dough doesn’t triple in volume the way it is supposed to. I remember when Molly turned to me a few months ago, just an hour after hearing from her doctor that returning to Cusco would be ok, and she said “I’m going back.” We got a dense chewy crust instead. Delicious. So very good nonetheless. I will get a stand mixer someday. In this case, I can wait.
After pizza, with my inner Italian mother fully awakened, I went on to make fresh pasta and pesto for Molly’s actual last supper.
We ate it with a bottle of Malbec, her favorite red wine. Watched a last movie together, while she engaged in long soulful moments with the dogs.
Sometimes events in life align in a way that can open a door for something new. As Molly departs, I turn my gaze in the direction of my mother, who has recently expressed desire to come live with me. It’s not that I haven’t thought about it. How hard it must be to live alone after sixty years of having a life partner. About how nice it would be to have a shared life supporting each other in ways only a mother and daughter can. I’ve had to step back and stop taking this aspect of our time on this earth together for granted. As I have with Molly. Even though I’ve gotten used to living alone, coveting my solitude. Mom also covets her solitude. She is ready for a different way and so am I. The view from her new space in the addition I am designing for her will be inspiring. I can feel the truth of this. It feels good to say yes because I want to instead of thinking I have to. Why wait?
On my frequent visits with Mom these days, I cook a lot for her too. It seems, all she really wants is my tuna pasta, made a classic Italian way with lots of garlic and a little tomato and tuna packed in olive oil. I went to our family favorite Italian store in town yesterday to stock up on this tuna. Dismayed to find there was only one can left on the shelf, I asked the owner if there was any in stock he could get for me and he quickly said, “No, so sorry, my father cleaned me out this morning. He takes it to Florida with him so he can make his tuna pasta there.” There are clearly some things that we must take with us wherever we go.
Molly is a nester. She took her favorite shower curtain back to Cusco after sharing it with me for nine months, after having it with her in two homes before she left Cusco, now to grace her next home there again. Mom will bring many of her treasures to share with me as well, beautiful things that will no doubt thrive in a new context. Molly ceremoniously presented me her special painted horse before leaving, a gift of spirit and color that warms my heart and takes me right to where she is each time I see it. There is something about the wide eyed energy of this sweet horse ready to take off that resonates.
The generational thread that binds me and Molly and Mom together is strong. From each other, we are finding space to make bold decisions with confidence and love. With our eyes wide open.