19 February 2010

Making Toast



I'm reading a new book... Making Toast is a memoir written by Roger Rosenblatt. It's a short but powerful collection of essays that details his family's evolution through the dark times after the loss of his daughter to a sudden catastrophic heart attack. Mr. Rosenblatt and his wife move into his daughter and son-in-law's home to help with the care of their three young grandchildren and the maintenance of the household. It is a dignified and bittersweet memoir that chronicles so many things ... the grief of a father, the redemptive nature of his blossoming relationship with his young grandchildren, his wonder at the lasting memories and impressions that his dynamic daughter has left behind, his struggle with the cold and random nature of life's circumstances, his joy and befuddlement at the nature of young children and their inner workings ...

There is a soulful passage in which Mr. R details his morning routine of making toast for his grandchildren and himself. Reading it, I began to cry a bit. Here is a man who is confronting, daily, the loss of his much-loved girl; how does he cope with beginning each morning? He goes through the Zen-like routine of preparing the kitchen for another day of providing sustenance - empty the dishwasher, set out the dishes and breakfast cereals for the grandchildren, make the coffee for the adults, prepare toast just to the liking of each individual - just soft butter, butter and jam, butter and cinnamon sugar. The power of the kitchen as the nurturing center from which his family will go out into the world for another day is never overtly stated, but it comes through, nonetheless.

Making food and thinking go hand in hand and I suspect that as he goes through this morning ritual, he also sorts through his own approach to the day. What memories and thoughts will he catalogue in his writings, who will get the children to their afterschool activities, what needs to be done around the house, how will he juggle his responsibilities to his work-a-day career, why isn't Amy here with us, what cosmic purpose could there possibly be in taking a mother from her husband and kids ...?

I am counting my blessings and sending my own strong prayers out for Mr. Rosenblatt  and all those who suffer such grief.  We are all going to feel it at some point in our lives; it is almost a tonic for me to read of one man's way of dealing with it in such a reflective manner.

2 comments:

  1. I heard the NPR interview he did with that lady with the gravelly voice... a strong man.

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  2. Thank you for sharing your thoughts on this book. I will be looking for it at the library...

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