Prior to 2007, I had never seen such a thing before, didn’t even know they existed. These quirky little things are grapefruit spoons, designed for citrus aficionados who like to scoop their fruit with ease.
My grampa was such a one. He was a man who took care with his appearance – almost always appearing with a collared shirt (and often a tie), hair nicely pomaded, clean shaven – and with his food. He liked routine, especially in the mornings, and so even though breakfast was not a meal we shared often except when out for a special occasion, I was familiar with his preferences from when I stayed with him in Winnipeg: coffee (black, no sugar), some light toast, maybe cereal, vitamins, and half a grapefruit.
The summer that I was turning 40, Grampa happened to be visiting my mom around that same time. I can’t recall the reason for these particular arrangements, but for a few days Grampa would be staying with me. In anticipation, I was sure to stock up on the breakfast vitals (and tidy my place like it’s never been tidied, before or since). Grampa had turned 90 a few months earlier (and had retired from work a few months before that) and making sure he could get around easily, be comfortable, and have a bit of privacy were important to me.
The first morning, I set the table (he also liked a tidy table), made the coffee, and prepared the grapefruit. I spent considerable time loosening up the individual sections in the grapefruit halves, mangling many a morsel and membrane in the process and wondering why anyone would eat this often if ever. When I served it to him, he thanked me and then asked if I had a grapefruit spoon. I did not, nor had I heard of such a thing. We carried on, and for those few days met up with friends and family. We had a birthday brunch out the next day (so I and the grapefruit were spared another morning massacre).
The next time I was in Winnipeg visiting, he presented me with a gift – two grapefruit spoons from his own kitchen. I instantly saw what the appeal was for grapefruit fans. Those sharp teeth at the point do all the messy work that I had mucked around with, making the eating much easier. I was delighted with these little spoons, their little star design almost festive.
I never told him that I actually don’t like grapefruit, at least not like that. Juice in a cocktail, grilled with brown sugar, sliced in a summer punch – yes, that grapefruit I like. But split and scooped for breakfast with no sugar – my cheeks pucker just thinking about it. He disapproved of sugar on grapefruit, as well as in coffee (he once spent an entire summer of morning get togethers trying to get me to like black coffee with no sugar – it did not take). Since the instances of us sharing breakfast were rare, I decided to feign enjoyment of his favourite fruit and enjoy those rare meals and times together.
Grampa said that he gave me two spoons so that we could each have one the next time he visited. Even though I never have (and likely never will) use them, I have kept the spoons as a memento of Grampa, as objects of my life. Now that he is gone, I like to imagine him enjoying the grapefruit of his dreams each and every morning, with his black coffee, watching the news or a hockey game. Love you, Grampa.