For tonight’s little entry we have some pecans in various states of being cracked. They can be bought shelled, of course, but I grew up knowing that cracking them was part of the whole experience. It’s like unwrapping a gift by someone who can’t wrap properly and uses too much tape. There’s a struggle at first, but in the end you know the reward will be worth it. As a kid, we would always have a bowl filled with these on the table and a little silver nutcracker nearby, or just sitting on top of the pecans themselves. Since the outside looks and acts like a piece of wood, it takes a bit of practice to crack them just right. Getting it all out cleanly is an important skill as the little extra bits can give a bit of an acrid taste. My dad was a master at this and could crack them in a single swift motion that made it seem like nothing happened at all. At least, that’s how I remember it. The years have come and gone since those days and sometimes memories can make things seem more incredible than they really were. That’s why memories are so wonderful.
My dad passed away several years ago. I was vacationing on the coast of Spain when it happened, watching the sun set on the water. These were the days before smart phones and international calling plans so it wasn’t until I returned home that I found out something had happened. Beyond the shock and sadness, I found myself searching my mind for all the best memories. The ones that I hadn’t thought about in years. The ones that featured him in the best light and made me remember the best moments. My parents lived in Texas and my dad wasn’t very good at telephone conversations. These first came to mind, but each one was the same and involved my mother handing him the phone and him reluctantly taking it for a few awkward moments of restrained conversation. Digging further, I would find much more, which included bits of wisdom like telling me that if I wanted to be writer I should do it and make it happen. This, actually on a phone conversation, just a month before he was gone forever.
And then my mind went to those times spent as a family back in our suburban home miles from the city. Sitting together during the cold weather months, with only the glow of the television to barely light the pecans on the table. While battling my grief, I saw that bowl in my mind’s eye and I did the inexplicable. I smiled. I saw my father cracking pecans and cursing when one didn’t quite crack the way that it should. I saw him showing me how to do it and giggled at myself as I fumbled about trying. My dad and I didn’t have a lot in common, but in that moment, we have everything in common. And that made it the best moment of all. Sometimes in life, the memories we least expect can matter more than any in the world. It’s not always the big moments in life that move us. Often, the bits that truly capture our hearts can involve something as beautifully simple as a handful of pecans.
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Da Vinci Paint Co.: Yellow Ochre, Terra Cotta and Cobalt Blue. Lamy Al-Star Safari Fountain Pen with sepia ink in an A5 Hahnemühle Watercolour Book.
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