Shared Grief

For some months, I have been sorting out what it is to live into my retirement. And while it is a journey Barbara and I are undertaking together, much of its design comes out of my own head. I am a driven and attentive soul. When I set my mind to something or turn my hand to something, watch out.

So, back in June, a month before the ELCIC’s triennial assembly (mid July) and two months before I retired (end of August) I began to tend to my health in a way which would have been difficult while I was still on the road and doing my job. I set a goal weight, for example, a range which I hoped to achieve over the time from June, 2019, til my long-postponed hip replacement, which was schedule for the day before yesterday (March 20, 2020) and which has now been postponed for good reason and good cause.

Today, I rose from the night to a personal weight in the mid-range of my goal. I was at 235 or so some months ago and am now between 195 and 200. Pounds, not kilos. Pounds are smaller. The idea of losing weight was not an abstraction but is tied to an emerging lifestyle. We are eating a little lower off the food chain, eating fewer carbs (because of our sinful and pound-inducing preferences and not for Keetoh-whatever), walking often, running occasional errands of mercy and doing the work of bringing our back-yard garden to life. It’s a big adventure!

My new body weight is something of a first step in what I’ve cooked up for myself. I hope, at length, to discontinue some of the drugs I’ve been on for ever while keeping those which are now essential to my functioning reasonably well. As well, in the run-up to getting my hip done, I was offered a pacemaker either before my hip surgery or at some later date. I elected for the latter but am increasingly aware it won’t be long and I’m no longer clear which will come first. There are no such clarities, these days.

Yesterday, I prepared what Barbara has come to call “Chicken à la André”. My version is loosely–very loosely–based on a recipe from a cookbook prepared at Trinity, New Hamburg, 15 or 20 years ago. It’s a Mediterranean dish composed of dark chicken meat, carrots, celery, brussels sprouts, mushrooms, prunes, raisins and cranberries, dried oregano, wine and wine-vinegar, olive oil, olives and capers. It’s different every time I make it, usually because I’ve forgotten something.

Yesterday, we divided the proceeds into right-sized containers, each with a thigh and something of everything else and took them, two here, three there, to people who might appreciate someone else’s fare, especially now. We didn’t enter. Barbara was the wheelman while I took the food to the doorsteps. Last evening, we ate heartily with enough left over for a meal later in the week.

We are growing into some routines. We now observe meatless Mondays, fishy Fridays, leftover anydays, Sunday celebrations (family dinners) and so on. We eat a regular banquet of vegetables and other garden produce. We also gather with others for a eucharistic feast on Sunday mornings. In recent times, this has turned into a eucharistic echo on account of the pandemic. (This morning, I watched one of our communities online. It was hard to grasp.) We grieve this loss but share that grief with many who cannot come to the table under the best of circumstances. And I make soup. Litres of it, if not gallons. Much of it goes out the door as it used to when I was in the parish.

Our regimen is designed to reflect measures of concern both for our own health and for the health of the world we enjoy. We are not doctrinaire and occasions slide forward and backward. Sometimes, we observe fishy Friday on Wednesday. And when we’re out, we don’t worry about the day or our diet and we relish whatever is served. So for now.

I want to do a little more work out back but it has turned cold again and I won’t be able to do much. It’s early, though. I still have seeds to start and feeders to fill in these early intimations of spring. Thanks for reading and all blessings in these complicated and uncertain times.

André +

André Lavergne writing from a settler-descendant’s home on the traditional lands of the Neutral, Anishnaabe, and Haudenosaunee peoples on the Haldimand Tract (1784). 

5 thoughts on “Shared Grief”

  1. We are eating fewer calories here in England too – partly as choice, and partly to make sure that our small larder is sufficient for the coming weeks. Thank you for these pastoral words and thoughts.


  2. Bravo on the health goals, André! It must be painful having surgery delayed. I want the recipe for the chicken! 🙂


  3. This chicken is soooo yummy. It is an interesting combination of sweet (from the prunes, raisins, and cranberries) and sour (olives – lots of olives please). I am so lucky to be stuck in quarantine with my chef André ❤

    BTW – I've lost 25 lbs! It's much harder for us women to lose weight 😉

    Liked by 1 person

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