It’s that old familiar smell of death and disease; a scent I can’t shake even if I try due to months spent engulfing its wickedness. When studying wine, you’re taught to commit scents to memory, but this is one I would rather forget. It all started onSeptember 11th, 2001, a day of fear and despair for our great nation and unexpectedly, my childhood home.
Like most, I remember that morning clearly. My grandfather, along with my grandmother and I, watched as a second plane hit the World Trade Center. ”I hoped you would never live to see something like this happen in your lifetime, sweetheart.” My grandfather, an ex British navy vet, short of breath and practically in tears, uttered. He mentioned he didn’t feel well, and two days later he was in the hospital.
I hadn’t been to the hospital very many times besides the birth of my niece and nephew. I knew it only to be a place of life and joy. This however, was all about to change. I spent almost everyday visiting my grandfather in the hospital, inhaling that wretched scent. Just shy of two months later, he passed away.
Although the two never met, my 93-year-old grandmother from my father’s side of the family recently moved to Las Vegas. I’ve been spending every other Sunday with her, soaking up her wisdom and basking in her love. And just when things start to look all safe and rosy, as in my last post, life throws a wrench in the mix.
Suddenly, my grandmother felt short of breath and started sweating profusely. My father rushed her to the hospital. Listening to my dad’s voicemail made me sick to my stomach; like the first drop over the side of a scary roller coaster.
Don’t get me wrong, my grandmother is nothing short of a fighter. To hospital staff she’s known as Mrs. Positive and she has obviously lived to see 93. I wasn’t necessarily scared that she would pass away, although the thought did cross my mind. I was in fear because the hospital, home to that horrible stench, meant the end for my beloved grandfather.
As my husband and I made our way to my grandmother’s hospital room, I felt thetears start to well up. I fought the feeling and said nothing for fear that if I spoke, I would lose my strength to see her. I had a bouquet of stargazers in one hand and a bumble bee balloon in the other, hoping to remind her of Spring, sunshine and life. I even had a fake ladybug hiding in the flowers; an ode to her childhood nickname.
Since her arrival to the hospital, we’ve spent several days visiting, listening to her talk about everything from her favorite desserts she would make, to a poem she wrote so very many years ago called “Symphony Of Life.” She can still recite it word for word. For a few short hours I forgot about that God awful scent, lost in conversation and engulfed in her love and humor. It wasn’t until she mentioned this being her last “hoorah” that I finally gave in and cried.
I tried to fight back the tears, but it was no use. “I’m sorry to have upset you. Please forgive me,” she stated. I wanted to stay strong, cheerful and upbeat, but hearing her speak in this manner scared me. Quietly, I asked God to forgive me. I was being selfish. As much as it may hurt, if her time on this earth is up, I’m truly grateful I got the chance to really know her. I only wish we could have had the opportunity to do so sooner.
The past couple weeks have been hard. I fell ill before a trip to Seattle for my husband’s birthday, possibly due to the stress of leaving her behind. My grandma’s health went from good to really bad. She even spent a few nights in ICU. Luckily, her will to live persisted and thanks to lots of prayers and that fighter spirit my grandmother has, she was released from the hospital on Tuesday! I haven’t been able to see her, since I too have been sick, but I plan on continuing our Sunday visits this weekend. Hooray, for that!
Spring is officially here! Too bad I couldn’t bring my grandma a bouquet of Spring wines to drink, instead of those stargazers! These spring sippers (shown above) should definitely be on your shopping list:
1. Jean-Paul Brun Domaine des Terres Dorres Morgon, Beaujolais, France ($17) – Cru Beaujolais is the ultimate wine for a Spring picnic, especially at under $20 a bottle. Beaujolais is produced using the Gamay grape. It works with an assortment of foods due to its light body and marked acidity. If you like Pinot Noir, you ‘ll most likely enjoy a serious Cru Beajolais, like this one from the Morgon region. The wine is medium bodied with concentrated red fruits and spice, like Pinot, and an underlying sense of minerality. Make sure you let it breath for at least an hour to really get its full affect.
2. 2011 Myriad Cellars Semillion McGah Family Vineyard, Napa Valley, California ($24) - I always tell people to branch out and see what other wines are out there. If you like big, bold whites like Chardonnay, why not try Semillion? And, since it’s not quite cold enough right now to drink crisp white wines, why not go for something a little fuller bodied with aromas of flowers and stone fruits? This particular Semillion has a creamy mouthfeel with plenty of citrus notes to still make it feel fresh and a honey aroma that reminds me of bees buzzing around a hive. Salads with citrus, chicken salad and even peach cobbler should all work with this wine.
3. NV Le Grand Courtâge Sparkling Rose, France ($24) - This wine is an unusual blend of 3 grapes: Chardonnay and Ugni Blanc, which are white and one red grape, Gamay. Chardonnay adds structure and finesse to the blend while Ugni Blanc lends refreshing acidity. Gamay gives the wine its beautiful pink color and offers strawberry and raspberry flavors and aromas. It’s an easy drinking Spring sipper with just a touch of sugar that makes me want to pack a picnic lunch of fresh berries, chicken salad, a French baguette and maybe a block of Brie.
4. 2010 Breton Vouvray Sec “La Dilettante,” Loire Valley, France ($24) - If all you drink is semi-sweet Riesling, this wine might be for you! Just the right amount of sugar is counterbalanced by a ton of refreshing acidity, apricot flavors, a honey-like texture and just a slight sparkle. It’s seriously delicious! If you’re packing a picnic basket of cheese (esp. goat), fruit and nuts, this is your wine!
**All of these wines are available at Khoury’s Fine Wine & Spirits