Unlike my grandma, my dad hasn’t had much of a presence on this site. He does, however, loom large in my forthcoming book, which I turned in to my editor just a few weeks ago and which most people (quite understandably) assume is set to be a traditional cookbook with photos, while in actuality, it’s a photo-less memoir with recipes.
Where do preserved lemons fit in? Well, as you may already know from the video, when Grandma was here, she had wanted to make a lemon cake using the lemons from our lemon tree. But the lemons weren’t ready yet; all of them were still partially green. A few weeks later, however, by the day of her memorial service, they had ripened. And since I couldn’t make it to Pittsburgh for the service, I decided to spend part of the afternoon preserving lemons.
The next morning, I woke up early, took Mavis out, ate breakfast, and checked on my lemons. The liquid was a little less than halfway up the jar. Then my brother called and broke the news to me.
My dad and I weren’t close in the traditional sense. He and my mom divorced when I was young, and though I lived with him and my stepmom for a while, when I was 14, I chose to move in with my mom. After that, I would only see him sporadically. He lived in rural Pennsylvania and didn’t fly, so it was never exactly easy to meet up. In the past five years, I’d seen him just twice. But he was very invested in this baby I’m carrying. Not only was the baby set to be his first grandchild, but he had been an Ob/Gyn and therefore, had extra advice to give me. Flying not being an option, in order to meet the baby, he was going to take a train out here sometime in late January or February. And though my birthday gifts from him always tended to arrive well after my actual birthday, in the last week of his life, he’d bought the baby a gift off our registry. It arrived the Wednesday after he died with a funny note offering to be “on call” for the delivery.
To be honest, my dad wouldn’t have cared about these preserved lemons. I’m simply struck by the timing of everything. In a few weeks, when these lemons are ready, this baby could be too. To be honest, I was stressed about the potential visit. My dad had very particular tastes and opinions. I didn’t know what I would have fed him, let alone what sharing a living space with him after not doing so for the past 18 years was going to be like.
But had he made it to LA, I’m sure we would’ve worked something out. Had he made it to LA, I would have been very happy to see him.