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By Lea Haravon Collins
The grapefruit brought it all back. And nothing points up our differences like a grapefruit. Everything she loves about it, save the smell, I hate. It’s complicated; so much work for a bit of very low calorie fruit. So juicy – almost not worth the fruit itself. So much is wasted in the cutting. Each section needs its own attention and care, and an uncareful cut destroys the small treasure, turns it into mush and more juice. Further, it stings an open cut like nobody’s business.
She would come from her room in the early mornings and painstakingly cut these tart jewels, complete with a spoonful of sugar on top. The special meal that their own mother refused to make, what with the work involved and all, was accompanied with Mamou’s other specialty – toast and honey, which, again, mother rejected for the sweet sticky mess – the same reason that the grapefruit’s labor intense juiciness was refused. But Mamou made no fuss about messes, at least until the pleasure of the eating had passed, and the children moved on to other things.
She gripped the large fragrant ball in her hands when I presented it to her. “I love this!” she said, the longest coherent sentence I had heard in a while. She held it tightly as I pushed her wheelchair toward the dining room in search of a sharp cutting knife, a utensil not easily found in a nursing home.
Once the fruit was divided in half by dint of much effort with a weak knife, I handed her the semi sphere and she began to make sections. Neat, perfect triangle sections, the kind that I am incapable of making, the kind she used to make, cut after painstaking cut. “Quand j’étais petite,*” she said while carving away.
*French for “when I was little.”