Wrapped In Love

The simple and beautiful way that Joanne E. Fronabarger remembers her parents, each and every day.

It was 2001 and Cypress Restaurant had just opened. My parents came down to visit and it was decided, since I was now working evening dinner shifts, that a cell phone was needed in case of emergencies. Off to the store went Kem, my parents and myself.

My parents surprised me with the gift of membership to COSTCO, the giant box store of my dreams and Kem bought me my first cell phone…a Nokia. I was having a banner day!  Somewhere in our slow stroll up and down the isles, my Father decided that I needed A BIG GIANT ROLL OF PLASTIC WRAP!

I was like…”Dad, really. I will never use it all. It’s so big! I don’t have room for it…it’s bigger than my kitchen!”

He gave me that “Funzy look”, eyebrows raised, mouth half open.  “Come on Jo….it’s a gift.”

How could I refuse?

Upon our return home, my father made busy-work of finding just the right place for the big giant roll of plastic wrap. He was pleased with its placement directly on top of the fridge.  Somehow, this man of barely 5′ 3″ always managed to find the highest storage place for everything that was needed on a daily basis. But, there it sat for all of the five years we lived in that condo.

In 2005 we moved…and it moved with us. Brand new condo, lots of room. I had a perfect place for that big orange and red box of plastic wrap: On the shelf in my pantry…and not in clear view of everyone.

I used that wrap every single day for almost almost 9 years; and, every time I did, I thought of that day and my parents.

In October of 2010, my step-daughter Saskia was getting married and my parents came down for what would be the final visit of their lives to Charleston. I had baked the Italian cookies for the reception and my mother was full of joy as we arranged the array of cookies passed down through generations and, finally, from her to me — on two huge platters. My father watched smiling, while sneaking a cookie or two.

I pulled out the big giant orange and red roll of plastic wrap for the trays once we were satisfied with the arrangements. I yanked at the film and my hand snapped back…and to my surprise, all I was holding was a two foot piece of what we realized was the last of the wrap.

We stood staring in silence for a few seconds. My mother spoke first, “Is that the last of the wrap?” I nodded. “Oh no…no. Is that the roll we bought you?” I nodded. “Oh no…no. You’ve had that roll for so long.”

My father chimed in, “I bought you that roll. That roll lasted a long time. That roll lasted longer than most marriages. Hell, you should have named that roll…it lasted longer than your first condo. Hey, weren’t you driving a different car when I bought you that roll…it lasted longer than your car.”

At just about that time my daughter called. “Hi, Mom…what are you doing?”

“Well, we’re wrapping the cookie platters for Saskia’s wedding but we ran out of wrap.”

Long silence…”You mean you ran out of wrap…The big giant roll wrap? (Another silence) Is Nina sad? Are you going to miss that roll?”

I laughed…yes. I know it’s stupid…but yes. That wasn’t just a roll of wrap. It was a commitment…it wasn’t just 3000 ft. of plastic…that was 3000 ft. of cookies and dinners and all kinds of food and family get-togethers.

My dad slammed his hand down hard on the table, stood up and said…”Come on, Jo…we gotta go to Costco. We gotta get you another roll of that wrap.”

By this time the store was too big for my father to navigate without a wheelchair, so I gladly pushed him to the appropriate isle for the wrap. I could see he was a little anxious as his eyes darted about searching for the roll. All they had in the beginning of isle was the smaller roll. But finally, half way down there it was — THE BIG GIANT ROLL OF WRAP, only the box was a different color. It was blue and yellow…no more orange and red. I assured him that was fine with me and he sighed in relief as we headed to the check out.

My Dad died that following March…and we lost my Mom last October…and so many others — my brother-in-law Rob, my sister-in-law Michelle, and my ex-husband John. We sold our second condo and moved to a beautiful home…of course, the wrap came with us.

So many times since our move I’ve had the thought of how excited my parents would be for me, and how I wish they could come to visit me in my new home so I could show them around.

Tonight, as I was preparing Kem’s lunch for tomorrow, I took out the BIG GIANT BLUE AND YELLOW box of wrap and placed it on the counter. As I did I swore I smelled my Dad’s aftershave. I shivered and looked up and, in the background, behind the box of wrap, I caught a glimpse of the montage of black and white photos of my parents looking over at me — as if to say, “We’re here with you…as you prepare your family’s meals. And we’re still helping you because you are using that BIG GIANT BLUE AND YELLOW BOX OF CELLOPHANE that we bought for you to wrap your food with love.”

I hope this one never runs out!

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