Saturday, August 30, 2014

The Last Glass of Vintage Port

Alfred came in from the garden with an empty bottle of Cockburn 1994 Vintage Port in one hand and a crystal goblet in the other. Truth be told, he appeared pretty satisfied with himself.

            Mother looked up from her packing and said, “Oh, I was looking for that glass. I wondered where was.” She took the goblet, rinsed it out, dried it, wrapped it carefully in packing paper and inserted it lovingly into one of the little compartments of the box she was packing on the kitchen table.

            She asked, “What were you doing in the garden with a bottle of vintage port and a goblet?”

            “Mother,” said Alfred, “I was offering an libation to God in thanksgiving for all His blessings here in our home.”

            “A libation, Alfred?” said Mother, puzzled.

            “So many changes, Mother, so many changes, so many people we have known, so many good-byes.”

            “Yes, rather, Alfred,” said Mother. It all reminds me of Bilbo’s last speech at his birthday party when he turned eleventy-one.

            Alfred laughed, “Yes, indeed, Mother, very clever. You mean when Bilbo said, “”First of all…I am immensely fond of you all, and that eleventy-one years is too short a time to live among such excellent and admirable hobbits…I don’t know half of you half as well as I should like; and I like less than half of you half as well as you deserve.”[i] It has been over all, mostly good, Mother, despite people like Ima Hatchett, Moana Crutchley and Harry Prudhomme! That is why I was out in the garden offering a libation to our God and Father.”

            “What gave me the idea, Mother was a verse in the Book of Numbers that says, “For the drink offering you shall offer a third of a hin of wine, a pleasing aroma to the LORD” [Numbers 15:7], and I thought why not. That Cockburn 1994 Vintage Port won’t travel very well, and it may take weeks for it to settle after we move. So I took the bottle out to the garden to make a libation to the Lord in a place that has always given me such pleasure.”

            “But, why the goblet, Alfred?” asked Mother.

            “Well, Mother,” said Alfred, “the Cockburn 1994 is after all a very fine vintage port, so I brought a crystal goblet with me. Oh, Mother, you know! One glass for me, and the rest of the bottle I poured out before the Lord. It would have been a shame not to have tasted it after saving it for so long.”

            “Saying good-bye is such an awkward thing, Alfred,” said Mother, ‘so many mixed emotions. I swear, I don’t know whether to laugh or to cry. I am particularly fond of  Grace and Horace Whittington. I’m really going to miss them, and months ago I would never have thought that I was going to miss our Bible Study group.”

            “Ah, but Mother,” said Alfred, “Just think of the adventure ahead of us. Jeremy and Winnifred are about to have a baby, and we are about to see our grandchild grow up. Not only that we are moving back to the area where we first met and fell in love. Imagine, we have a contract on a home on Beacon Hill and there is so much to do in Boston. Why, The Boston Museum of Fine Arts has a current exhibition on Jamie Wyeth that examines his imaginative approach to realism over the course of six decades.”

            “Alfred,” said Mother. “I’m excited to go, but at the same time, I’m sad to leave.”

“I know the plans I have for you, says the LORD, plans for welfare and not for evil, to give you a future and a hope” [Jeremiah 29:11].

[i] J.R.R. Tolkien: The Fellowship of the Ring, Chapter 1

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