Wednesday, January 19, 2022

Tiny Love Stories: ‘My First Love Called Me a Vacation’

Wednesday, January 19, 2022

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Omar didn’t...


Anna was the manager of the Tucson, Ariz., assisted living home where my father lived. The day father moved in, I told her I wanted to rearrange the furniture. She had already done it when I arrived. She cut his toenails, combed his hair, watched sports and “Leave It to Beaver” with him, and played his Bible audiobook as he navigated his last days on earth. I loved him. She loved him. Neither of us had been in love with a woman before. But she said, “There’s a first time for everything.” In an ending, a new beginning. — Holly Schaffer

It had been 28 years, 11 months and 18 days since the gift had been wrapped and set aside for a meeting between a great-grandfather and his great-granddaughter. “My father didn’t think he would ever get to meet you, but he bought it with hope all the same,” my biological grandmother said. She and I were meeting for the first time just before my 29th birthday. I unwrapped an angel figurine, feeling my eyes water and throat tighten. The gift was a conduit of love. Adoption doesn’t mean you are given up. It means you are forever shared. — Amy T. Woehling

My first love called me a vacation, in a poetic way. In my lover’s declaration — “You’re a personified vacation, I never want to leave” — lay our demise. Because you don’t want to leave vacation, but you must. Our moment at the beach came and went. I didn’t want to be a vacation. I wanted someone to see me and say, “I am finally home.” — Tayah Groat

Before they sold gluten-free food in mainstream grocery stores, my mother hunted for ingredients to make her corn-flake chicken salad and noodle kugel for my daughter, diagnosed with celiac disease. She converted her recipes, perfected them, cooked for two days straight. When we arrived at the Jersey Shore, my little girl wasn’t upset that she couldn’t eat boardwalk pizza or cheese steaks. She was greeted with a feast, safe to eat, made with love by her “Mommom.” Decades later, my mother is in memory care, her recipes forgotten. I can try to recreate her meals, but they wouldn’t taste the same. — Abby Alten Schwartz


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