Thursday, November 25, 2010

the apple from the tree

I've spent much of the past couple days visiting family that I'm unlikely to hear from except when I'm here. it's been really good: I saw my dad's younger brother and his family, including his daughter who I remember as a 4 or 5 year old and who's now celebrating her 17th year in the air force; spent time seeing his elder sister who's 90-something and has dementia and who thought I was her dead brother-in-law; ran into my cousin who works for the post office in vegas; we stopped at the longterm care facility my dad's surviving sister-in-law lives at and spent time with her (when she was still alive my mom visited her every other day and my dad drives up to feed her twice a week); and today we picked up my cousin who lives in wellsville and the 3 of us had thanksgiving dinner at a tiny restaurant in genesee, pa.

I want to talk about that place for a moment. it's called the genesee hometown restaurant and has been there about 3 years, but the woman who owns the place and does the cooking says she has been a restauranteur since she was 6. her name is audrey kio and her place doesn't have a spot on the internet (except this listing) and it's likely that when she dies, which won't be that long since she's in her 90s, the place and her name will disappear, be subsumed by the weight of everyday life of everyday people. the place is staffed mostly by family and they had set up a buffet of turkey and ham and potatoes and salads and pies and such, mostly for her family to come by to eat since she didn't advertise. the food wasn't exceptional but there was plenty of it and the dinner plates were the size of some towns. genesee itself is a little pimple on the raised back of the pa-ny border with a gas station and a post office and a library open 3 days a week. but we were there and in my sweater and black sneaks I was probably the best-dressed. mostly the people there were farmers and hunters in bibs and boots and caps, people who smelled and spend their lives sweating.

audrey sat down and like it was the most natural thing in the world talked to us about her childhood and her upbringing and her family. her husband died some 6 years back and her family is all she has left now (which is true for most people, I guess) and her granddaughter is in jail and her greatgrandchildren want to stay with her but they can't for some reason I never heard. my dad sat there and listened and commisserated. this is what most of our week has been was him sitting on someone's couch or on the edge of a chair and listening to her pour out her life in spurts and fits and I realized this is where I get my sense of ministerial calm. I haven't felt bored and I suspect if he hadn't been a banker my dad would have been a preacher in some postage stamp town. I suppose I'd known that but it was brought more forcefully to me the past few days. my wife made a comment to me earlier today on a different topic that the apple didn't fall far from the tree. I guess not, although I hope I don't end my days in the thick.

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