Jokes At Dinnertime

Sometimes when the phone rings at ten minutes to six I think it is my friend, Andie. She knew how much I hate cooking the evening meal, that I usually start around 5.30PM after uhhhm-ing and aaahhh-ing for ages before deciding what is on the menu. She used to quiz me about what I was cooking, crack jokes about how much of it I would burn and how much of it everyone would refuse to eat. She always managed to get me out of my grumpy why-do-I-have-to-cook mood.

For years Andie would ring me once or twice a week at ten minutes to six. It was a little joke we shared. Sometimes I can’t bear the fact that she will never call me again and joke about my lack of finesse in the kitchen. Sometimes when the phone rings around the time she used to call I am so disappointed it is not her that I feel myself falling forward and have to steady myself on the furniture. Sometimes I forget that she died three months ago.

If only we could sit as we used to – watching the garden, talking about how quickly the plants grow in the Australian sun, cataloguing clouds, closing our eyes and trying to recognise bird calls. Sometimes I search for her when it is dark and the shadows stain the ground a deep green. I try to convince myself she is hunting for possums or listening for the scramble of fruit bats – but I know in my heart she is gone.

How to stop the yearning. That is the thing. How to tell yourself, convincingly, that you have reached the end. That you will not meet a dear person you loved, again in this life. How to not rage and wail and gnash your teeth at the realisation. That is the hard part.

Tonight I cooked rice. I happened to glance at the clock at ten minutes to six. The phone didn’t ring. The rice almost boiled over. I stomped and thudded around the kitchen and then I laughed as I heard Andie saying in my head: ‘What’s cookin’, Chick?’ And I knew, as the starchy scent of boiled rice rose, that in some small way she was still with me.

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26 thoughts on “Jokes At Dinnertime

  1. Selma, that brought tears to my eyes. I feel your loss. My best friend and I talk every weekday evening on the phone. About ten years ago she was sick and was in a coma for a few days. All is fine since, but I can’t imagine her not in my life.

    Hang in there.

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  2. This post brought tears to my eyes. Your dear friend is still with you Selma and she is ‘ringing’ even if the phone doesn’t make a sound. Andie was indeed fortunate to call you a friend.

    Hugs back to you dear Selma. I have known too much loss in the past few years; I share your pain. G

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  3. That moment, when you realize things are different, can be the most debilitating part of grief.

    There are times, when I’m visiting my parents, that I’ll catch the scent of something; a combination of soap, earth, chicken feed, and wood smoke, and I’ll look around for my dear grandpa. It’s been over 10 years and those moments still catch me off guard.

    Hugs to you, dear Selma. We know as time passes, that sudden slap of loss will ease, but it never goes away. Something will spark it, reminding us that we still feel, we still love, we still long, and we will always remember.

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  4. Oh man that was a sad post… I feel for you a big hug from me to you! And I do believe her spirit is there with you.

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  5. Selma, firstly, my condolences for the loss of your friend; may your gratitude conquer that loss.

    Secondly, I would like to say that in your tribute to Andie(and the friendship you shared with her) you show off your skills as a writer by NOT showing off your skills as a writer. In other words, you followed one of the golden “rules” of writing which goes something like: the more profound or emotionally impactful the message, the less adorned one’s writing should be.

    DavidM
    “I still miss those I loved who are no longer with me but I find I am grateful for having loved them. The gratitude has finally conquered the loss”
    . – Rita Mae Brown, Starting from Scratch

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  6. BRITT – I’m OK. It’s her family who feel her loss more. Some days are just worse than others, you know?

    EMPLOYEE – I am so glad to hear your friend recovered. Enjoy your time with her. Thanks for your kind thoughts.

    JASON – it is a fierce pain, almost palpable, but I feel better when I think of her zany sense of humour.

    GERALDINE – I know how hard it’s been for you, lately. I often think of you and hope you are OK. XX

    KAREN – that’s it, that moment when you realise things are different. That’s the hardest part. I am sorry about your dear Grandpa. It’s funny how the little everyday things spark our memories, isn’t it?

    BRENDA – thank you. So much.

    TBALL – I think she’s here too. Sometimes I feel her quite strongly. Thanks for the hug.

    DAVID – I am blown away by the kindness and generosity in this comment. You are such a good person. I can’t thank you enough.

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  7. a lovely post to the undying love for your wonderful friend… we never forget,, and sometimes it is even easier to carry them with you always when they are gone… i don’t know why that is,, but it is true in my case…..

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  8. NAT – it’s odd, it almost feels wrong to laugh and remember her corny jokes, but it does help the coping process.

    MELEAH – oh yeah, she’s still hanging around like some kind of heavenly Head Chef. Hopefully, she’ll stop me from burning things for many years to come.

    PAISLEY – I agree with you completely. Sometimes the best option is to keep our departed loved ones close. It’s easier to bear, isn’t it?

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  9. You nailed it at the end, Selma. She’s still there, in your heart, in your mind, and she’ll always work her magic if you let her. And when you’re down about it, those flashes of humour will hit the spot.

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  10. Oh that was very poignant. Try to turn it on its head and make 5.50pm a special time – cos as you say she is still there in your head, in your memory. It can still be your brief time with Andie. She would probably want you to do that – I know I would.

    I remember when my grandfather died when I was 13. He was the first person I had known who had died. It was that fact that hit me like a sledgehammer – the simplicity of the fact that I would never ever see him again. That I could roam the earth and he would not be there. I was shocked. It had never occurred to me before that people weren’t forever.

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  11. I lost a dear friend over 20 years ago and for many years my grief would catch me off guard at inexplicable moments. Now when I think of him there is a little warm glow in my heart where he will always reside. I feel your pain Selma and I hope you too will feel the easing of your heartache as time slowly passes.

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  12. ANTHONY – you’re are so right. Humour has an amazing capacity to heal. I am very grateful I can still remember the funny moments!

    LAURI- how nice of you to visit. I am really touched. Thank you so much!

    JONAS – how wise you are. The reveries do indeed remain. Thank you for reminding me.

    RELUCTANT BLOGGER – oh, I know what you mean. It’s hard to fathom that very thing – that you will never see that person again. Sorry about your Grandfather.Losing a grandparent is so hard to deal with. What a great idea about making 5.50PM a time to remember Andie. I’m going to give it a try.

    INGRID – thank you so much for the link and for your encouragement. I am going to give it a try.

    BEC – you’re right. The ones we love are always with us.

    DIAMONDS – he is a wise one, that Anthony. Great to hear from you!

    CHRIS – oh, yeah. The memories are so important and definitely worth it.

    ROSHAN – awww, now you are going to make me cry. What a sweetie you are!

    GYPSY – I am sure there will be an easing of the grief over time. It has happened with other people I have lost. I am sorry about the loss of your friend but glad to know you can think of him with fondness.

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  13. Selma, you expressed that feeling of disbelief so well. It’s the thing that takes you by surprise, even if you think you’re prepared for the death of someone you love. The yearning, the loss from your life – it is so hard. I’m still struggling with the gaps in my life that people I loved have left.

    They say that it gets easier with time – I hope so. And all those wonderful people who have died really do live on in our memories and our hearts and the stories we tell. Keep on telling those stories Selma, and have a big hug from Scotland 🙂

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  14. PUDDOCK – awww, it is so nice to hear from you. I’ll take that hug from Scotland – I miss her so. I am sorry you’re still struggling. It is extremely difficult, isn’t it? Because the little things remind us of those we’ve lost. Sending you a fair dinkum Aussie hug. Take care of yourself.

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