Grandma is canning jam in the cellar, while grandpa selects a bottle of his just-ready homemade wine. The boys are coming home tonight with their families, and nothing but the best bottle will do. Grandpa has been bottling his own wine since leaving the old country, but he really has hit a stride with his recent batches. Earlier today, Grandma made gherkinslaw and kielbasa with scalloped potatoes and a freshly baked blueberry-apple pie, with apples from the outside orchards. Everything was just about set, so Grandma was taking up a little of the precious time she had free to can a bit of her homemade jam to store away for the winter along with her rows of canned pickles, tomatoes, and peppers.
The boys would be here soon with their wives, and Grandma wanted to freshen up just before they arrived.
Marty’s wife, Audrey, is British but American born. She came from the most British of parents, and loved a good pint, all things made with ground beef and of course, tea. Norman’s wife, Catherine, was a musician like both of the boys and as down to earth as they came, although she was smart as a whip and fully engaged in life. Aud, as they called Audrey, was fully engaged too, but in more of a socialite sort of way that didn’t fully translate to Grandma and Grandpa, who had come to America for a better life and to escape the raging wars in Europe that had ravaged their homelands as children.
No, for Grandpa and Grandma the farm life was the dream. Orchard trees, iris plants, and plenty of good cooking and hard work were what made them tick. Not that they didn’t enjoy nice things, but they were happy with what they had and the love of their family. Catherine, or Cathy, seemed to fit in with the family more, but they accepted Aud just the same.
Just about five minutes to go now before the boys arrived.
Grandma hurried to change into a fresh dress, and Grandpa let the wine bottle breathe. He couldn’t wait to share his latest creation with Marty and Norman, both of whom didn’t fall far from their parents’ orchard trees. Both, though, were also bit with the music bug and were accomplished professional musicians although they’d taken different paths. Marty was a musical director on the Las Vegas Strip and Norman was a music professor in Maryland. And although both were still relatively young, both had done well in their chosen fields.
Because of that, the boys didn’t come home as much as they used to, but Grandma and Grandpa understood. Both had to make their way in the world the best they could. But because tonight was special, Grandpa and Grandma wouldn’t waste a second lamenting how they didn’t see the boys. No, they’d cherish the meal and the time with their family. Hopefully Aud didn’t take up too much of the time talking about herself.
When the doorbell rang, it was Norman and Cathy who arrived first. They came in, hugged Grandma and Grandpa, and got right down to asking how the older couple was doing. Shortly thereafter, Marty and Aud arrived, their little son Martin II in tow. Aud spent the first five minutes or so of the visit talking about how the little boy had made them late since they arrived second to Norman and Cathy. Really, no one cared, but this was Aud’s way.
Wine was poured and food was served, and the adults had a grand time eating and drinking. Aud fussed over Martin, and was unusually quiet at dinner. A confirmed drinker, she also abstained from libations, saying she felt ill. Grandpa and Grandma tried to push it out of their minds, but couldn’t help but think that she was aiming for a little attention. She was a dancer but otherwise not musical, and singing and playing would certainly commence after dessert. It was the one definite time Aud had to just sit back and observe. Grandma didn’t really play either, but she was good for a sing-a-long even though she was a tad shy. A little of Grandpa’s wine always loosened her up just enough by the time the music got underway.
As she did, Aud tended to Martin while Cathy and Marty sat next to each other at the piano and played a tune. Norman picked up a horn and joined in, while Grandpa got out his violin and added his stylings. It was a family tradition, and one that Aud just couldn’t change. It’s not that it bothered her – she loved being a musician’s wife. It just bothered her that she couldn’t play and on nights like this she couldn’t contribute and be part of the fun. She knew she came off as haughty, but it was her armor. If she could control a scene or work the room in Vegas as Marty’s wife, it made her feel as if she was a part of things. In this home, she wasn’t a part of anything. She didn’t cook much and Grandma was an ace. She wasn’t from an agriculturally talented family – her own father was a genius who worked for Howard Hughes aviation. And she wasn’t naturally likable like Cathy, who could light up any room she walked into. No, Aud was pretty enough and a solid dancer, but she’d never found her niche. She was lucky when she met Marty and they married. And she loved her boy, Martin.
As the night went on, Aud felt her head begin to spin and wondered what was wrong. She didn’t usually feel like this, and she’d love to enjoy a glass of the harder stuff that had just come out of Grandpa’s liquor cabinet. That, she could go for.
Instead, she found herself on the floor.
Paramedics arrived and tended to Aud, propping her head up while they took her vitals. Everything seemed to be normal, except she was faint, and very nauseated. The doctor arrived soon after, and took some vitals. He began to laugh, although he was the only one in the room who seemed to think anything was funny.
“Your wife is pregnant,” the doctor told Marty.
Exuberant, Marty rushed over to Aud and kissed her forehead, while the two paramedics and Grandpa helped her up and onto the couch.
“She’ll need to see her regular doctor, but the reason she feels this way is that a baby is baking inside her.”
And with that, they all toasted Aud, and eventually, Marty.
As for me, I just can’t wait to meet my grandma and grandpa and learn all those canning and wine making recipes. I’ve been watching a lot from my perch inside my mom and I can’t wait to be born into this family.