somebody just cut into
a fresh strawberry.
* * *
I’ve always felt that my family is something of a matriarchy. My grandmothers, mother, aunts, sisters, and female cousins all held especially prominent roles in my childhood and upbringing. In honor of Mother’s Day, then, I thought I’d share this haiku that connects (at least in my mind) this line of amazing women with one small fruit.
My great-grandmother, Nana, when she was eighty-six, died when I was two. I can’t even imagine being eighty-four years older than another human being. She had suffered a stroke, and ultimately pneumonia took her. Although I have little memory of her, I do remember visiting her in the hospital towards the end. She was in her hospital bed, sitting up, with a meal tray in front of her. With my toddler’s etiquette, I spotted a strawberry on her plate and asked if I could have it. As any great-grandmother would, she obliged and handed it down to me, and I gratefully partook. I’ve always felt a little guilty that I ate Nana’s last strawberry.
My sister, cousins, and I would spend many summer days at our grandmother’s house when we were kids. A line of trees separated her property from her mother’s – Nana’s – old property. Around late June, we would cross through the trees into the yard that used to be Nana’s and scour it for the tiniest wild strawberries you can imagine. They were very tart and wonderful, and so, so small.
One of my favorite snacks to have at my grandmother’s house was giant strawberries dipped in powdered sugar. You had to be sure not to inhale or laugh while you ate them, or you’d end up with lungs full of powder and a coughing fit that only engendered more laughter; but that was half the fun.
Strawberries mean youth and ripe old age and matrons and laughter and sore lungs.