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Pumpkin Pie Birthdays: A Thanksgiving Tribute to my Binky (Grandfather)

It’s my second thanksgiving without you in person and my first without you at all. You’re the only reason I actually ever liked thanksgiving, so this year it really hurts. I remember when we were both skeletal, afraid, but together. We ate that shrimp cocktail, and then dinner, and then dessert. For years, you were only allowed those sugar free diabetes treats, and I stood with you in allegiance because sugar was the enemy, it was our enemy. We reveled in our bones and our disgust of food. We were ok with our (lack of) words and knowing looks, the laxatives in the cabinet and the carbsmart ice-cream with sugar free syrup. What used to be “Binky’s cookies” which were Nilla Wafers turned into market basket's sugar free cookies and simply smart milk. Our French toast mornings turned to plain Cheerios by the bucket with bananas. We were full with guilt and knowledge. We both dumped our food into the garbage knowingly, but lied through our teeth. We had each other to fight the cravings. But then, we were sick. We were too thin and yet, too much. “Don’t eat too much, but don’t eat too little”. What were we supposed to think, Bink? Our minds were always nourished, but our bodies, that’s where we had the problem. At what point did our bodies have too many walks around the pond and too few calories? When did we become afraid? When did the shrimp cocktail appetizers at holidays and the pumpkin pie birthdays become too much? Do you remember towards the end... when my new girlfriend baked you a pumpkin cheesecake and for days I agonized because it had to be perfect for you? And you took a bite and said “who made this delicious cheesecake and can I keep it”, and we looked at each other and cried because we made it. Do you remember the nursing home visits? When we no longer bought you sugar free and you made me eat the real cookies with you? Do you remember how happy you looked and all the love we shared? Do you remember asking me if I was leaving for california because I didn’t love you? I hope you know I left because I loved you so much that I needed to spread your love. I needed everyone to know about Binky’s cookies, your French toast, vanilla ice-cream with maple syrup, Cheerio tupperwares with bananas, and most of all, those pumpkin pie birthdays. I needed to share all the love you had for Nina and for me, letting my baby hands take your food and loving me anyway. For us losing our bodies and minds and journeying back, together. I needed the world to know how important you and your pumpkin pie birthdays are to me.

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