I knew the day would come when I’d forget the Cheez-Its. It didn’t come on Easter, when I contributed snacks to a Lagrand family gathering. Nope.
On that day I prepared a platter of grapes, dried apricots, a carefully-curated collection of cheeses, various crackers–and a box of Cheez-Its. The crunchy little orange squares were so incongruous I felt compelled to explain: “My mother loved Cheez-Its. I always serve them at holidays in her memory.”
But a few weeks later, when we gathered to celebrate my husband, Rich’s, birthday–well. It was quite the occasion, with barbecued beef and red velvet cake and chips and dip and ice cream. We expected sixteen people and I’d been home sick just a few days earlier and we had grandbabies and their great-grandparents all gathered around the same table and my father was bringing his fiancee for the first time.
And when everyone had gone home, the Cheez-Its were still in their box in the pantry. For three and a half years I remembered, faithfully pouring the crispy bits into a bowl before every occasion, sometimes sniffling, sometimes smiling, as I remembered my mom and all the goodness she carried through her days on this earth. Then I forgot.
Nothing happened. I didn’t feel guilty, or sad, or neglectful of my mother’s memory. I didn’t feel disloyal, serving another woman who arrived on my dad’s arm. Gosh no. Though I did regret forgetting to offer the Cheez-Its, as any hostess would regret forgetting to provide a planned menu item.
If after fifty-three years of marriage to my mother, after seeing that covenant through until death did the parting–if after all that, my dad wants more–that tells me a lot about his esteem for my mother, and for the life they built together. I wish him and his beloved well. I’m glad he’s not alone. I’m glad she’s not alone.
I need to learn her favorite cracker, so I can serve them next time she’s here. Right next to the Cheez-Its.
20 You who have shown me many troubles and distresses
Will revive me again,
And will bring me up again from the depths of the earth.
21 May You increase my greatness
And turn to comfort me.
Psalm 71:20-21 (NASB)