de(tales): peanut butter and banana sandwich
Rachel is a winsome and lyrical voice on the internet. I have enjoyed getting to know her over the past few months, and I have appreciated her words in a lot of contexts. Her de(tale) is about food, which is what mine always seem to be about, and I hope that you will find it delicious, nostalgic and just a little bittersweet. Enjoy, friends.
I used to love bananas, my momma tells me. As a baby, I couldn’t get enough. But somewhere between infancy and childhood, my tastebuds took a left-hand turn and left the curving yellow fruit in a ditch. Banana pudding, banana taffy, even strawberry-banana smoothies still linger on the acceptable taste list. But the fruit itself is enough to make my nose twitch and my lip instinctively curl.
My disdain for the banana is no secret. Everyone in my family knows my preference and is good about keeping them far away from me. But somehow, that summer day in 2012, my grandfather forgot. He had bigger things on his mind than remembering my palate preferences.
I remember the way the deck chairs felt, the thick rubber straps that made up the seat pressing against my swollen legs, the way the water glasses and the glass surface of the patio table made a familiar clinking sound as they connected. I remember the way that my curving stomach pressed against the edge of the table, already obscenely large despite being only seven months pregnant. I remember how that day was cool, cool enough for us to eat outdoors despite the merciless heat that had plagued us all that summer.
My grandmother was smiling, leaning back against the chair as though it was the only thing keeping her connected to the Earth. And then my grandfather came out onto the porch with two plates in his hand, and he met her eyes with a smile, and then I saw the chair stop being the force holding her to the planet. The words “breast cancer” had become all too common in our vocabulary in recent days, attributed entirely to my grandmother’s recent diagnosis. And Grandpa, he had become her caregiver, taking the weight of the home entirely on his shoulders. He cared for her well. He loved her deep.
He set one of the plates in front of me, and the other in front of my grandmother with a kiss on her forehead. “Peanut butter and bananas sa’miches on whole grain bread,” he said before meandering off in his gentle way to get his own plate. I swallowed, desperately hoping that neither of them had seen the distaste that flickered across my features before I could regain control. I knew that nothing in this world was going to convince me to mention my dislike to my grandfather, nor was I going to leave a shred of bread or banana anywhere on my plate. Grandpa had made this, for me and for Grandma and for himself. I was an adult. Pregnant or not, banana hatred or not, I was going to eat this sandwich.
We waited for Grandpa to come back before we started in on our lunch. He bowed his hand and we held hands, a small trinity gathered there in the summer sun. He said “amen,” and I picked up the first half of my sandwich without hesitation. Just as I took the first bite, I looked up at my grandparents, watching as my grandpa squeezed my grandmother’s hand before moving to eat his lunch.
That sandwich tasted like love.
We chatted between bites. They asked how I was feeling, if the baby was moving a lot, and inquiring how my husband was doing at his job. I remember that we laughed. I remember that Grandpa held Grandma’s hand a lot, that he refilled our water glasses and brought us more napkins. I ate every bite of that sandwich, my focus not on the taste but on the atmosphere. The peanut butter tasted like family, the bread like surrender. The banana was overwhelmingly flavoured of unconditional love. It was the best thing I’ve ever eaten.
I went home after lunch, but I didn’t leave that table for a long time. In some respects, I feel like I’m still sitting there, watching my grandparents love one another through the hardest situation of their lives. I’m still witness to this love, the way that the past two years have jolted sideways and then sailed smoothly and then plummeted down until we thought our stomachs might drop out. I’m still witness to the peace that passes beyond understanding, and I’m still witness to the love that met around that glass-topped patio table.
If you ask me what love tastes like, I’ll tell you that it tastes like a peanut butter and banana sandwich on whole grain bread.
Rachel Haas is a Story-writing, caffeine-consuming, paint-flinging, wild-at-heart Jesus craver. She is married to Jonathon, as she has been for the past four years, momma to Marian, and wrangler of an oversized Great Dane and two cats who are relatively bonkers. She dwells in between Midwestern cornfields where she pours her heart out in lowercase abandon. She blogs her heart at DramaticElegance :: you can also find her on Twitter
You can check out the other de(tales) (so far) here.