Tuesday, June 24, 2008

Popo by Meg Austen

There is a tradition in my house. It begins with a five pound bag of carrots, fresh beets, and apples by the pound. Washed. And then sliced. When my kids were young the whooshing of my vegetable knife as it sliced through a carrot or an apple was enough to make them bolt into hiding. With my dogs, it has the opposite effect. They bolt into the kitchen and wait.

I think my dogs can hear a banana peel.

I slice off a sliver and give them each a piece, be it carrot, or apple, or beet. They used to take anything I gave them till the day I slipped them an onion. Today they sniff carefully before biting, and run off happily with their treat.

I get out my Acme juicer and assemble it quickly on the counter. My thoughts always stray to Popo at times like these. My maternal grandmother. I think back to the days when I was a child and Popo stood in her kitchen the way I stand in mine. It is her juicer that I assembled today, her juicer that I use to create fresh fruit and vegetable juices for my kids and myself and sometimes my dogs.

I have so many memories of my Popo. The first time I remember her, I was in kindergarten, and didn’t much like her. She was so old and drought-like, with bones poking out where there should have been none, and skin letting go where it should have clung.

And then I am in the fourth grade standing in her house as she comes padding down the always meticulously clean, hand waxed hallway in her handmade fabric slippers. She has a small paper cup in her hand that she wants me to have. It is filled with a green liquid that I take and swallow and almost choke to death. It came from her juicer.

I am in college and wanting to help. Popo had natural wood Roman shades covering her very large picture window that once exposed a view of the ocean. Many a time I had seen her small, 4’11, 85 pound body pull hard on the cord and send that Roman shade quickly to the ceiling. I am strong now, trained in the martial arts, an athlete. I am strong like Popeye. Popo is weak, so I decide I will help by opening her shades. I grasp the cord, and I pull. I wrap my hand around the cord and I pull again, this time with the full strength of both arms and my body. I decide to see if Popo can still open the shades.

Popo was a single mother, widowed with five children in the 1940’s. As a single mother, divorced with two children in the 1990’s, I wonder how she did it alone. And I am always in awe.

Today I made carrot apple juice. My son is out with his girlfriend, my daughter upstairs on Facebook chatting with her friends. So there is no bolting by my children at the sound of my knife. My dogs have begged for just about all of my apples.

So, as I sit and drink my carrot with a little bit of apple juice, my thoughts wander back to Popo and the juicer that has survived her, and I wonder… what legacy will I leave to my grandchildren?

And so I sit down to write. This is my legacy.

1 comment:

Emi said...

Good strong closing. Stirs emotions on your own legacy as it relates to your popo's legacy. The rest of the story however, although quite descriptive but didn't have that emotional effect for me.