Monday, March 31, 2014

The Backyard BBQ

What can take a very normal day and turn it into a memory?  Simple choices.  I call him at work and just about miss him as he wraps up the week to head home.  We had planned to have burgers one night sometime soon.  "Is tonight okay with you?" I ask, "or are you too worn out to do the whole barbecue thing?"  He says he would love it, so I prepare the meat with all my secret ingredients that make those boys say, "Mom, your back-yard burgers are better than Jalama Burgers or Orcutt Burgers or any burgers!"

And when he gets home and starts to head out the back door he asks me to get the charcoal and we find there is none.  We consider for a moment just cancelling and having a normal meal around the table.  That's what's easy.  It's easy to back out and back down and postpone and go back to the usual.  And we can miss the moments that build precious memories.  So, after a week of drudgery and phone calls and business deals, he gets back in the car with our youngest and picks up the charcoal.  That's what good fathers do.  They go forward into the seemingly mundane and stay steady when we could cave in.  They do simple things like getting into a car when that's the last thing they want to do - because they believe in making memories {that, and my burgers ARE really good}.

When he and the youngest get home with a pack of Trident and a bag of Kingsford, they go in the back to do man's work.  They pull out the old red Weber {because burgers taste better on the old fashioned grills, don't'cha know} and they do their ritual.  They put in the coals and both stand back while he pours the fluid and sends the match flying.  And when that poof of flame comes they look innocent and guilty all at once.  Two boys being father and son together - making indelible memories.

And the older son comes in from cycling with his friend and after he washes he brings the meat to the grill.  I stand at the kitchen window watching them together.  The three men in my life enjoying one another.  And we could have missed this and just had any old supper.

So I toss a salad and cut up some veggies and put tortilla chips on the plates and then I remember we have pomegranite soda in the back of the fridge so I get plastic tumblers and fill them with the surprise.  I come out to meet them as the burgers are ready and we pull up our chairs around that Weber.  He pulls off the grill and puts on some wood from the tree he cut down last weekend.  And we sit around our backyard campfire while the sun creeps low, laughing and enjoying the making of memories.

And before its all over my youngest bursts out with, "Let's roast some marshmallows!" so we get the skewars and roast while the sky starts showing stars.  We may as well be on vacation, but we're at home.  We didn't miss this one, thanks to him, and his willingness to set aside the week's burdens and let life come snuggle around us so we could make memories and treasure one another in unpretentious celebrations.

When the boys are asleep and we step back out there as embers are burning low in that Weber, I think to myself, I could have missed all of this.  I could have been too busy or angry or just plain tired.  I could have made fun of that old Weber like I used to.  But I have mellowed with him like those low burning coals, which give off a steady glow instead of being all firey.  And the longer I love him, the more I feel it: the best of life is in the simple things, shared between us.

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