This is my 58th Christmas without my father. I thought of him recently while I browned some meatballs for a spaghetti sauce we were cooking up for guests over the holidays.
This was his recipe. One handed down from his father and passed on to me by my mother years after he passed away. The pungent smell of the garlic and Romano cheese filled the kitchen and flashed back his old ritual of tasting the first batch of sauce with a single meatball in a saucer late at night when the kitchen was a mess and the cooking was over for that day. Funny how smell has a better memory than sight.
My kids are grown now and tease my wife and me because we're always kissing goodbye, even if it's just for a quick trip to the shopping center. They don't know the pain of loss yet. How every separation is a preview of death and how we try to put it off in our own human way with a whispered assurance of love or quick embrace.
Our family is all together this year and I almost ache with joy over the promise of a memorable time of shared love. We'll eat that old world meal prepared only for special occasions such as this and the aroma will fill the house with a silent yuletide wish for the one who prepared it long ago.