|Jacob with his mom and his youngest daughter|
Today my third child and youngest son turned forty-five. As is true on all their birthdays these days, I have no idea how he got to be that old. Jamie was a surprise baby who quickly wormed his way into my heart. More than his siblings, he had a “mama” fixation as an infant. If I even looked like I was going out he’d howl like a banshee. I’ve never forgotten the babysitter who told me, “If you’d go on and leave we’ll be just fine.” And they were.
Jamie’s had a mischievous streak all his life. There was never anything malicious about his pranks—he was simply curious and imaginative, like the time I found him dragging a cat up our driveway by its tail. “This is muh pet,” he said. Later he came to me in tears—“My Pet,” as we came to all her, had scratched him. “What did you do to My Pet?” “I hammered her.”
Jamie never met a mud puddle he could avoid. He played hard and loved hard but there was something fey about him, in the sense that he seemed to be in touch with otherworldly spirits we weren’t. His hands were as wrinkled as an old man, and his Uncle Bob told me that meant he had an old soul. He was a natural artist, drawing elaborate constructions that put Superman next to Jesus Christ. He had his own art show when he was in pre-school at TCU. When he took art lessons, that spontaneity disappeared.
In middle school, he was my best dinner date. We had our favorites—an Armenian restaurant that just disappeared one day, the Black-Eyed Pea where we loved the vegetables. I’ll never forget going there with him the night his braces were brand new and his mouth so sore he could barely eat mashed potatoes.
Today, Jamie is a devoted husband and father and a successful businessman, owner of a manufacturers’ representatives sales company. But the mischievous little boy lingers inside, and he is liable to prank you when you least expect it.
Happy birthday, James Andrew. I hope you had a delightful day and that sushi you wanted for dinner.
My pal Betty came for dinner tonight, and I put her to work cooking it. I had it all figured out ahead of time, but the result was only medium. We made shakshuka, an egg breakfast dish that originated in North Africa and spread throughout the Near East. It’s eggs poached in a tomato sauce seasoned with onion, garlic, cumin, paprika, and cayenne. Because I don’t have an oven, we cooked it in a skillet, and our eggs were hard-boiled, the sauce solidified before we knew it. It’s hard to tell someone else how to cook something but it’s near impossible to cook from a wheelchair in a kitchen not designed for that. Another reason I can’t wait to be mobile—so I can cook.
My next project? A wild mushroom stew served over polenta but for now, back to my work-in-progress. I’ve written 3000 words since I went back to it and am beginning, especially today, to get the rhythm and feel of writing.
Life is good.