My third son’s mother-in-law (and thus Emmett’s other grandmother) had given me three boxes of strike-anywhere matches a couple of years ago. I had understood that these were now illegal, that a substance used in them, when concentrated, could be used for bad purposes. And yet she was able to get them from a store. I suppose these are now made from some other substance that is not as dangerous, though I may be mistaken about that or even about the contraband status of the original.
Regardless, in the time that I’ve had those three boxes, I’ve probably built only a dozen fires, which is to say, I’ve barely started using even a single box of the matches. (And I generally succeed at building one-match fires. We use a lighter for the cook stove.) The boxes wait in the mouse-proof cabinet to be called into infrequent service. There are 300 matches per box, times three boxes, less a dozen or so used, equalling more than 800 still to go.
Over this last weekend, Emmett’s other grandparents had been in town to see him (as well as to see their daughter and son-in-law). His other grandmother saw me, and the first thing she said was, “I have something for you.” Then she presented me with three more boxes of the matches. (900 more!)
These matches are a handy gift for a man with a cabin in the woods, and she clearly put some personal thought into them. I see her once or twice a year, we have very little in common other than Emmett and his parents, and yet she thinks about me in this specific way and acts on it, eagerly giving me a gift that is useful and meaningful. That warms my black and shriveled heart.
By the way, Emmett is all recovered from his four days in the NICU. His lungs are cleared of the fluid and he is now home with his parents (just a half hour down the road from us). His cousin Elaheh will be coming to town in two weeks and they’ll get to meet. His other cousin, Kenneth, will, alas, be in Paris, France, then as his Daddy runs a little marathon there and his Mommy runs a half marathon in Vienna, Austria. (And if you care to know, I’ll be “running” a marathon in St. Louis the following weekend.)