The back door slammed and their lively banter entered the room before them. Jennifer kissed her mother’s cheek saying, “Happy Easter, Mom.” Her brother, Josh, smiled, “You made the bunny cake.”
Laughter filled the air as they lifted items out of brown paper bags while talking. Carol arranged jellybeans on the white coconut icing to form the bunny’s eyes and mouth. His nose and whiskers made from black licorice were in place. Josh ran his finger along the cake edge to clean up dripping icing then licked his finger clean, “Delicious!”
Josh, better looking than his sister, was the type featured in the New York Times fashion section, blue eyes starring poignantly into the future pondering a secret. His hair was black like his father’s. Today he wore a scruffy two-day-old beard that accentuated his masculinity. He called to his dad who stood by the stove, “Happy Easter. Whatever you’re cooking smells good.”
His father looked up, “Come, give your old man a hug?” The fifty-five year old held a spatula high above his head as they embraced. Josh looked in the skillet, “Hash?”
“Yea, hash. Gotta have your grandfather’s favorite. I doctor it up by adding onion, green pepper and more potatoes. They’ll be here around 10 a.m. or there-a-bouts, after mass.”
Jason question, “They?”
“Yup, Grandpa and his new squeeze, Pattie,” said John.
Grandma had been dead five years. Recently Grandpa had been dating and now infatuated with one woman in particular, Pattie. Grandpa, a ninety year old, was physically fit which Pattie said earned him the nickname Muscles. Grandpa frequently revisited his youth bragging about weight lifting. When he did, Pattie became amorous and misty eyed, after all the man still had a full head of hair. At eighty-five, she dazzled others herself dressed in bright neon colors, decorated with sequins. A schoolgirl’s laugh accessorized her personality.
Carol rattled mixing bowls and baking utensils in the sink, rinsing them with water before putting the items in the dishwasher. She swished water in two empty cans and tossed them in the recycling bin, but missed. Jason bent to retrieve them. He studied the wet labels, “Did we get a dog?”
His mom, Carol quizzically said, “A dog? Why would you think we got a dog.”
“Because these are empty dog food cans you’re recycling.”
“No put your glasses on, Dad’s cooking hash, the cans . . . . .” Carol did not finish her sentence but glanced at her husband who was cooking as the door bell rang. “Jason, get the door. It’s Grandpa and Pattie, I’m sure.”
Carol disposed of the cans in the regular trash, pushing the cans to the very bottom of the pail. She joined her husband at the stove and inhaled deeply to confirm the revelation of he really was frying in the pan.
Jason opened the front door and greeted his grandfather with a hug. Grandpa wore a navy blue pin stripe suite, a crisp white shirt and solid periwinkle tie, but no muscles. A Calla lily was pinned to his lapel. Pattie wore a ridiculously large hat, much too much fragrance and a big smile.
Formal introductions took place in the kitchen. The egg and hash casserole was in the oven. John removed a mitt potholder to shake Pattie’s hands. Carol embraced the elderly woman pleased that she was hugged backed. Jason whispered to Jennifer, “Not really the Grandma type.” Jennifer responded by poking her bent elbow into his side and said, “Grandpa I made Mimosas.”
Grandpa took Pattie’s hand and led her towards the granite counter, pointed at a stool and said, “Well what are you waiting we’re thirsty.”
There were six champagne glasses on a green Plexiglas tray and Jennifer filled the glasses then deposited a stemmed maraschino in each orange juice drink.
When the kitchen timer rang John said, “Time to eat! You folks get settled in the dining room. I’ll bring in the food.” He opened the oven door and removed the hash casserole, a platter of sliced baked ham, baking dish of corn pudding and cinnamon buns.
Carol ignored Jason’s skeptical eyes saying, “I’ll get the coffee.”
“None for me, Pattie and I will have another mimosa, won’t we.” Pattie nodded her head in agreement.
Seated at the table everyone joined hands as they gave thanks.
The conversation was lively except for their observation that Carol was not eating much. Her response, “I’m vegan. Well not completely but pretty much a vegetarian, don’t eat meat,” as she pushed some corn pudding around her plate.
Grandpa keep chewing and with food in his mouth said, “You don’t know what you’re missing everything is delicious, especially the hash.”
After a period of silence, Jason wiped his mouth with a cloth napkin and questioned his mom, “So did we get a dog?”