So That’s What All the Fuss is About

Charlie and his Mimi.

Charlie and his Mimi.

I became a grandparent this week. To Charlie. Beautiful, wonderful, no-other-child-can-compare Charlie.

It’s not just the arrival of this new person in my life I’ve been expecting for months; it’s that my daughter, Debra, now a mom, and her loving husband, Matt, will experience the boundless joy (and worries) of parenthood. Is there any greater role in life?

Until Tuesday at 4:14 p.m., I would have said “No.”

But now I understand. I’m not just a parent who adores her children, regardless of how old they are. I am a grandparent who already is so profoundly in love with her first born grandchild; I can’t imagine anything more stupendous in life.

I can now offer a co-conspiratorial chuckle with my seasoned grandparent friends when they relay adages like this one by Erma Bombeck: “A grandmother pretends she doesn’t know who you are on Halloween.”

I totally get it.

And this one, by Gene Perret, “My grandchild has taught me what true love means. It means watching Scooby-Doo cartoons while the basketball game is on another channel.”

I get this one, too!

In a little over three days my priorities have shifted. All the things on my to-do list have slipped to the next page, and beyond. (Including my summer newsletter. Sorry, about that).

All I want to do is see him, hold him, smell him. FaceTime will be my interlude. I know I am no different from all of you other grandparents out there. For years, you’ve been telling me how this feels.

Now I know what all the fuss is about.




A Recipe for Memories

I just spent one hour looking for my recipe for artichoke dip. Though it’s simple to make, consisting of three ingredients; artichoke hearts, mayonnaise and parmesan cheese, and I’ve made it every holiday for the past 25 years, I still needed to rummage for that dog-eared document.

It’s kept in a ragged, taped, gold cardboard box labeled Schrafft’s Miniature Chocolates, a vessel that affords me my yearly trip down memory lane.

All sorts of recipes are stuffed inside, some printed neatly on index cards, handwritten on scraps of paper or torn out of magazines, most of which are no longer in print. But they come from the people I have cherished throughout my life.

The largest number are from my late mother-in-law, Dorothy Fisher, or as she writes on the top of all her offerings, “Dot Fisher.” They appear in her handwriting with little added gems: “These can be frozen for later use and, in fact, are good eaten frozen.” I’m immediately thrown back to Christmas pasts, recalling how Dot’s buttery wreath cookies melted on my tongue. (I have yet to replicate her delicate perfection but I always make her cherry cheesecakes and chocolate chip cookies.)

Her son (my late husband) Charlie, was a great cook in his own right. So the recipe box includes some of his contributions. The one for chicken marsala is written in Charlie’s hand on a memo sheet from United Press International (my first job as a reporter).

Decades ago, my sister, Susie, started me on a collection of recipes, each one painstakingly handwritten on yellow 3 X 5 cards. A personal comment was added to each, such as on the one for 1890 chicken she wrote, “3 guesses where I got this recipe…” (Our mother.) Or her recipe for Chocolate Chip Cake that calls for a bundt pan. Knowing me to be a novice in the kitchen, she added, “A bundt pan looks like a jello mold pan (Again, a shoutout to our mother) with a round hole in the center. I’m sure you must have a dozen lying around.”

For some reason, a graduation card from my sister with a 1973 postmark remains in the box. I know it’s out of place, but I look at it every year and put it right back inside.

I have recipes from old friends, including two exceptional cooks, Carol Bress (all of hers are meticulously written on index cards with little heart borders and encased in plastic,) and Helen Bosley, who 20 years ago the day after I attended a cocktail party in her house and proclaimed how good her broccoli casserole was, a recipe arrived in the mail. The box includes recipes that remind me of my kids as preschoolers. One says, “Parents: We made Apple Crisp in school today. If you want to make it at home, here’s the recipe.” Of course, we did the next day.

Every time I pull the old candy box from the cabinet I think I really should organize the scattered pieces into a tidy collection of recipes. And then I just say, Nah, and replace the rubber band that holds the lid on the box.

I never did find the artichoke dip recipe.

But, I never actually needed it.


Happy Birthday Charlie

Today would have been my husband’s 66th birthday. That’s 24 birthdays that I have not been able to wish him “all my love forever” or “here’s to another wonderful year together.”

Instead I call my kids – now closer to the age their father passed away than to the ages they were when he did – and say with humor, “A corona at lunch today in honor of Daddy!”

This is not meant to be maudlin, but a celebration of one of the finest men to have ever lived. I may refer to Charles A. Fisher III in my writings, but I rarely discuss him in any intimate detail. I just assume no one really cares other than me, my children, my family – my mom in particular – my very, very close friends, and scores of men and women whose lives he touched as a teacher, as a marine fire crew chief in Vietnam, as an assistant district attorney in Philadelphia, and as a partner in a Philadelphia law firm.

Charlie Fisher: Fish to his closest friends; Buddy to me; Chuck to his fraternity brothers who knew how much he hated that moniker. A man with integrity, self-confidence, intelligence, compassion and wit. How lucky we all were to have him grace our lives.

Thank you dear readers for indulging me.

Now go get that lime and join me in a toast!


My Daughter, the Glowing Bride


Recycling day is tomorrow. I just unceremoniously tossed into the can a large paper calendar on which I had written every single daily task associated with planning my daughter’s wedding. The wedding was this past Sunday. The squares for the rest of the week were blank.

Thank goodness.

I’m still floating about, feeling a bit tired, useless and a little unfocused. But I’m smiling, a big, loopy, uncontrollable grin. What a weekend it has been. All those words I’ve used to describe other people’s weddings: magical, spectacular, fairytale, I can now use to illustrate my daughter’s.

She was a beautiful bride. Yes, I know. I’m biased. So, no editorial comment, just description. Petite and fair with long cascading blonde hair, framing her blue eyes and her cherubic face (just like her dad’s). Her tiny waste cinched by a charmeuse sash that created definition between the embroidered bodice with sweetheart neckline and the flowing silk taffeta Cinderella bottom, all ivory and swishy above the crinolines. The soft train was graced by a floor-length veil trimmed in pearls and tiny crystals to match the bodice of the gown.

This delicate, exquisite princess was my daughter.

Her dad might not have been around to see his little girl get married but his memory was invoked by so many this past weekend. I am certain he and our old friend, Mark, were cracking open the scotch and watching from the balcony.

So many new words have entered our vocabulary: wife, husband, married, brother-in-law, son-in-law, mother-in-law, (oh yeah, I’ve finally turned into one of those!). Words so common, yet unfamiliar. Until now.

I love my new son-in-law. With all the wedding planning, from the gorgeous museum where the reception was held to the icebox groom cake that was personally delivered from a New York bakery, my daughter and son-in-law seemed blissfully happy.

And HE is the reason my daughter was a glowing bride.


P.S. Love you both very much.




Cruising Toward the BIG Day

A funny thing has happened to me as my daughter’s wedding fast approaches (we’re five days and counting), I’ve begun to chill. For whatever reason maybe the months of planning are starting to feel like old news. Maybe I’m finally aware that you can do no more than control your own actions and choices. Or maybe it’s the sound advice I’ve been getting from other people who have already been through the process.

As a result of my last newsletter in which I apologized for all the decisions wedding planning necessitates that end up leaving out and hurting folks, I received an overwhelming number of comments. Here’s an anonymous sampling:

“You really hit the nail on the head there…remember even the Royals (as in William and Kate) had to eliminate heads of state (the Obamas), relatives (former Auntie Sarah Ferguson) and others from their rather ‘elaborate’ wedding!”

“Best advice I can give is just relax and enjoy the day. It goes by way too quickly.”

“Once you have hosted a wedding, you are able to look back and forward through a new set of lenses. We had the identical apologetic thoughts after the fact. Since our daughter’s wedding, we have explained to many people who were feeling hurt at not getting an expected invitation to someone else’s child’s wedding that you can only understand ‘not making the cut’ once you have personally created and revised a wedding list for your own child’s wedding. Every point you made in your newsletter brought a smile of recognition to my face. Just think, the lessons you learned through the wedding planning process will remain with you for the rest of your life. And they will fill you with a forgiveness and understanding that will forever protect you from feeling angry, annoyed, hurt or slighted by decisions surrounding a friend or relative’s future wedding.”

“Just remember, the wedding will be a wonderful occasion no matter what happens with the weather, etc. Debra and the groom won’t even taste the food; they’ll be too busy seeing everyone. You don’t want a perfect affair; what would you have to talk about later if everything was perfect?”

The next time we meet I will be a mother-in-law. A cool, calm and collected one. I promise.


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