Soup.

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My father came to visit us when I was pregnant with my third child. Fall of 1999.

We lived in a one bedroom basement apartment in Essex.

When he came to visit, we were short on money, as well as furniture. (We had returned from Africa just a few months earlier.)

Fairly pregnant at the time, I would sit at the only table we had, a child’s table with tiny chairs.

My father sat across from me: all six foot one of him, folded into the yellow chair across from my green one.

My boys sat on the red and blue chairs and ate peanut butter and jelly sandwiches.

My father looked around, trying to be okay with how little we had. (It was fine, honestly, we had a king sized bed and two twin beds, along with the child’s table and chairs.)

There was not much by way of food in the cupboards on a regular basis, but we certainly had enough food to eat, every day.

We had one car that we shared.

We would all get up in the morning, pile into the car, and drive my husband to work.

The boys and I would bring the car back home with us and then plan out our days.

The days were very exciting. We would get as many parks into our day as possible, as well as frequent trips to the book store, libraries, shopping mall (for indoor exercise), Church Street (for rock climbing), mini hikes, visits to streams, etc. 

We loved our days.

Evenings we would snuggle in with books and music. We did not have cable television, only videos.

Toy Story was a huge hit in our house at that time.

My father watched a few of our days pan out and then took us out to dinner on his final night of visiting us.

The next day my father phoned me. He had done “a lot of thinking” on the drive back to Brooklyn, he said.

(It is useful to know that my father and I fought, about every single thing, for my whole entire life.  We had a loud and chaotic relationship. It was not healthy, truly. This visit was the very first time, ever, that he’d ever come to see me where I lived and it was rare that we were both working on communication and our relationship.)

So my father phones. He says, “Listen. I’m sending some money up. I think (your husband) is a little too short with you when he arrives home. I think he needs a snack on his drive home. I want you to go to the store with the money I send. Get some soup. Cans of soup. Lots of it. Then you take what’s left over and go buy one of those thermoses. The ones that hold soup. They have a lid. You put the hot soup into the thermos, place it on the seat of the car. When he’s headed home, the thermos is right next to him, on the seat. It’s right in his reach. He just reaches over and drinks the soup on the way. Then he will feel better when he arrives home.”

I’m like, “Dad. Seriously. It’s all fine. We don’t need soup.”

He’s all, “I’m sending $400 for soup and a thermos.”

Now I’m like PEEING myself. $100 for soup. Cans of soup.

Well. I’ll take it, I think. Why not? Cans of soup are good for everyone. A thermos is a good idea. Vermont can be cold in winter (which we were about to approach), so, yes, I’ll do it!

My husband comes home and I tell him the story. We are crying with laughter at this gesture. It’s cute. It’s kind. It’s gracious. It’s $100 worth of canned soup. Plus the thermos.

My dad calls me two days later. He calls to tell me he put the check in the mail. I say thank you.

Then he preps me for his latest idea. He’s been talking to some people.

He has our transportation solution.

And he is EXCITED.

He wants us to buy an electric bicycle.

That way my husband can get to work, every single day, 365 days per year, on the electric bicycle, and leave the car for his family. We won’t have to get up and drive him every day, we can just have the car, because he will be zooming along (to Shelburne, mind you, from Essex Town) on his electric bicycle.

I’m like, “Dad. This is Vermont. We’re headed into winter. It’s going to be 0 degrees and below 0, on a regular basis.”

He gets really excited, “They make clothes. Clothes that are warm enough for anything. YOU JUST CALL THEM ON THE PHONE AND THEY MAIL THEM TO YOUR HOUSE!”

(LL Bean).

“Dad,” I say, “ Truly. It’s REALLY cold here. Also, I don’t think it’s legal to use that on the highway.”

He gets very determined about the electric bicycle. He’s convinced this is the greatest idea he’s ever had. (He’s had many.)

He goes on about the electric bicycle for more than an hour.

Finally I say I have to go. We have to go pick up my husband.

I pick up my husband, we drive home.
I get the kids ready for bed and I tell him the entire story of the electric bicycle.

As I’m in and out of the bedroom, I see that he’s doubled over, tears pouring down his face, sliding off the bed and onto the floor. CRYING with laughter.

I look at him quizzically. He can’t handle it.

Tears are pouring down his face. He’s lost the ability to speak, at all, due to the laughter.

Finally, while I’m standing there, waiting, he chokes out, “When I get my electric bicycle…….H-h-h-h-h-how am I su—pppposed to eat my ‘effing soup?”

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I was born and raised in Brooklyn, New York. I have lived in Botswana, Namibia, South Africa, California, Oregon, New Mexico, Connecticut, Maryland and Vermont. Vermont is where my heart is and I’ve lived here for a total of 16 years. My current town is the stuff my childhood dreams were made of and I can’t believe I get to live here. The people. The place. The manner and heart and heartiness. I love it here. I recently turned 50 years old and am very excited and proud of this new chapter in my life. I am a very single Mom to three incredible human beings, 21, 19 and, 16. It’s an honor and a privilege to be writing amidst the remarkable talent of the moms within this blog family.

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