I go out for dinner regularly with my parents and their old friends who I call That Other Lady and That Other Lady’s Husband. They’ve known me since I was born so they’re always a comfortable kind of dinner. We always go to the same steak house around the corner, owned by a grumpy man who I adore.
It’s all very predictable always. That Other Lady’s Husband brings a bottle of red wine which they share, although sometimes That Other Lady abstains and drinks lime and soda instead. My father brings a bottle of white wine, which we share, with lots of ice.
We all order the same things each time, altering only the choice of baked potato or chips, according to the time of the month. My father allows himself chips once a month, otherwise goes for the healthier baked potato option. I normally have the baked potato, because I like the sour cream. My dad always orders his steak: “Rare, underdone.” My mother and That Other Lady have their’s medium, I have mine rare and That Other Lady’s Husband has his medium rare.
We talk about how much fun it is to be retired (them), how busy I am at work (me), whatever sport is going on (oh, our boys at the World Cup, sigh) and, newly, because they too now have their first grandchild, the grandchildren.
Last night was a little different, though. A shared close friend of ours, a woman whose kids I grew up with, died on Saturday after a long battle with cancer. She was a warm, generous character with three sons who were the most destructive creatures ever created. She loved them, despite this. I remember being mortally affronted when they broke our much-loved hammock when we were children. She longed for daughters so loved my sister and me and we loved her.
Her youngest son produced a daughter with his girlfriend aged 16-years old about 16 years ago. She was there to catch the baby and had a most joyous 16 years helping raise her. The daughter she’d never had. She was oh-so-brave, and went through three sets of chemo and then decided, with the last recurrence, that enough was enough. We spoke about her a lot last night, remembering her loveliness, her abundant love. I hope she’s peaceful now.
Also different last night, was the empty red wine bottle. Well , not that it was empty, that's normal. However, unbeknownst to those drinking it, them being my dad and That Other Lady’s Husband (That Other Lady was on lime and soda), in amongst the delicious wine were four floaty things, which we only noticed, stuck to the side of the bottle, when it was finished. Four, differently lengthed, furry-looking things.
I tried to fish them out with a long spoon but had no luck. It provided much amusement during pudding as we wondered how many had been in there to start. I have e-mailed them and wait to hear. I’m hoping to get a case of wine out of the deal…