Love and an Awesome Cocktail

The family in Morro BayI’ve been  luxuriating in the afterglow of a wonderful weekend with Brandon, his wife, Ingrid and their adorable baby, Esther. I wondered what I’d write about the weekend, as I ate way too much, drank the most awesome cocktail (it was research) and felt very thankful for someone who made this all possible.

In my last post, I talked about Brandon,  my step-son. He was four when I met my ex, and six when we married.

My mom, who was hoping for a single, handsome, Italian, Catholic doctor for her daughter, was not completely sold on the idea of me being with a man, who was only one of those things, especially one with a small child. But, as soon as my mom met Brandon, she was smitten.  “He’s a so cute anna such a nize a boy,” she said, and tried to fill him with candy immediately.

The only problem was his name; she couldn’t remember it.  She said, “Frenzy honey, I’mma sorry but I can’d a remember hissa name.  I have to ting offa breast anna den itta comes to me.” I could imagine the gears in her brain furiously turning as she said, “Breast, breast, breast…then…Oh Brendenz!   It was as close as she could come to Brandon, but that was OK, she thought he was wonderful.

Brandon was 28 when we divorced and will always  be part of my history and my family. No matter how legal the document, no divorce paper can erase 22 years of being a step-mom. I will always think of him as my son.

My other son, Anderson, always marvels at the connection I feel toward Brandon and once commented, “Wow, with all these pictures of Brandon in the house, people probably think you gave birth to him,” which is how it feels to me.

Brandon making drinks

Brandon/Breast slicing the tangerine for our amazing cocktail.

Even more so because we have a lot of similarities. I identify with him on many levels and we can just talk, which is a wonderful thing for a woman in her 60’s to be able to do with a young man in his 30’s.

After my divorce, he drove with me, Topper, the Corgi and Cosmo, our now deceased, bladder challenged Chocolate Lab,  all the way to Ohio, in my gray Honda Pilot.  As we were pulling out of Glendale, he almost brought me to tears when he thoughtfully took care of me first.  He unwrapped one of the burritos we’d just bought at El Sauz and got my horchata ready to drink because I was behind the wheel.

That little gesture felt like a wild, optimistic foreshadowing, that one day some wonderful man out there might not mind going to some trouble to make me comfortable.  I haven’t found him yet, but the hope still flickers.

Esther

Esther, the towheaded star of the show.

Our weekend was great. I hung out in my pajamas, as the morning sun poured through the windows, watching as the baby devoured her food, then played on the floor.

After initially eyeing me suspiciously, little Esther slowly warmed up to me, and when Brandon handed her to me, I was touched and thrilled she didn’t fuss too much. I am officially “Franma,” a completely perfect title.

Franma and Esther

Trying to decide if I’m OK.

 

 

Just sitting on the white canvas couch and learning more about Brandon’s wife was such a treat. She’s amazing. A former professional ballerina (if we’re talking dedication – professional ballet dancers are right up there with surgeons, astronauts  and the Dalai Lama, in terms of years of preparation.) She started lessons when she was three-years-old. Now she’s an entrepreneur, always thinking of new ideas for  products and services, and so dang smart.

the doting parents

The doting parents.

I loved talking with Brandon, trying to figure out exactly what his job entails, and about life in general.  His easy going personality, kindness, humility, and interest in voicing ridiculous characters make him completely lovable. And your heart goes to mush when you see the kids you watched grow up become loving parents. I always knew he’d be a great dad.

Finished drink

A Wisconsin Old Fashioned – utterly delicious!

Brandon and Ingrid have also taught me a new appreciation for cocktail hour.  A finely created cocktail is something to behold and savor. I think I’ll be taking my cocktail preparation a little more seriously in the future.

The best part was seeing my three kids, on the couch together, talking about what music they like and what’s cool on their phones.

Kids on couch cropped

Andy, Milena and Brandon.

The weekend left me so thankful for someone who probably hasn’t been thanked nearly enough;  Brandon’s mom, Theresa. She gave birth to Brandon when she was 22, single and had no idea how things would turn out. That takes bravery on a level I could never have approached, and a lot of love.

It didn’t occur to me then, but I realize now,  it’s very scary to send your six-year-old off to stay with a family in Pennsylvania, you’ve never met, (some of whom can’t even remember your kid’s name) but she allowed it.

When you’re the new wife, the ex is always painted with a brush colored by previous circumstances.  But after many years, and my own divorce, those brush strokes disappeared and I saw her differently and much more clearly. Now she’s on a canvas painted by the man Brandon’s become, and there’s nothing there but love.

ingredients with sugar cube

Just crush all this and move to the next step.

Wisconsin Old Fashioneds -They’ll Make You Thankful Too!

(Ingrid got this from one of her favorite pubs in Sheboygan, Wisconsin, The Duke of Devon. It’s what a real pub should be!  They even pickle their own mushrooms! There are variations on this drink, but this is the recipe we used and I loved it!)
Ingredients for one drink, but you’ll want two:
Cherries

Amazing cherries.

1 sugar cube

2 Luxardo Cherries (This is what maraschino cherries want to be when they grow up) They’re pricey, but very tasty.
2 thin slices of a Clementine Tangerine
Angostura Aromatic Bitters
Bourbon Whiskey (we used Elijah Craig)
Squirt/sparkling mineral water (This makes what’s called an Old Fashioned Press – which is what we made)
1 Pickled mushroom
Mash the Luxardo cherries, two thin slices of tangerine, one sugar cube and  5 dashes of Angostura Aromatic bitters in an old fashioned glass.
Pour in a double shot of whiskey, bourbon, rye, or brandy, depending on preference – we used bourbon whiskey
Fill the glass to the top with ice, then fill the glass with half Seven Up and half soda/sparkling mineral water.Garnish with pickled mushrooms and enjoy!
You can thank me later.

 

 

 

 

 

20 thoughts on “Love and an Awesome Cocktail

  1. Pingback: I Could Use Your Help – Can You Nominate Me? | At Fran's Table

  2. I’ll have to try that. From: At Fran’s Table To: btunno@bernietunnoins.com Sent: Tuesday, November 17, 2015 9:56 AM Subject: [New post] Love and an Awesome Cocktail #yiv0731398411 a:hover {color:red;}#yiv0731398411 a {text-decoration:none;color:#0088cc;}#yiv0731398411 a.yiv0731398411primaryactionlink:link, #yiv0731398411 a.yiv0731398411primaryactionlink:visited {background-color:#2585B2;color:#fff;}#yiv0731398411 a.yiv0731398411primaryactionlink:hover, #yiv0731398411 a.yiv0731398411primaryactionlink:active {background-color:#11729E;color:#fff;}#yiv0731398411 WordPress.com | Fran Tunno posted: “I’ve been  luxuriating in the afterglow of a wonderful weekend with Brandon, his wife, Ingrid and their adorable baby, Esther. I wondered what I’d write about the weekend, as I ate way too much, drank the most awesome cocktail (it was research) and felt v” | |

  3. “When you’re the new wife, the ex is always painted with a brush colored by previous circumstances. But after many years, and my own divorce, those brush strokes disappeared and I saw her differently and much more clearly. Now she’s on a canvas painted by the man Brandon’s become, and there’s nothing there but love.”
    —-This just may be the most beautiful paragraph I’ve ever read. Just love how much it says and how much true feeling and emotion is there. Loved the whole post!!

    • Awww Michelle, you just about brought me to tears with that comment. Thank you so very much for those very kind words. I am so glad my words resonated with you. Thanks so much for reading and for taking the time to comment!

  4. What a lovely post, Fran. I’m so glad that you had the weekend together! It sounds like it was full of love and gratitude and joy. I’m sure that you’re an absolute delight as a mother! All three kids are evidence of that!

    • Thank you Leslie. I’m not sure how delightful I am, but they all tolerate me failrly well, so that’s a good sign. Thank you for reading and taking the time to write a beautiful response.

  5. I love everything about this post. I love that you had true, deep, soulful fun. I love that you have family who makes you feel the specialness and beauty of you. I love to see the photos of your gorgeous family. I love that you had a weekend full of life! Thanks for sharing all of your experiences with us. xo

    • I always worry that I overshare, but I have been feeling pretty grateful lately and it can never hurt to share that (I hope!) Thanks for being such a wonderful, friend. Next coffee date will have to include some Baileys, now that I’m more in touch with Cocktail Hour Fran.

  6. You have to watch out for those divorced guys with a kid (or in my case, 2). We’re a dangerous bunch. Great story. I look forward to your blogs.

    • Awww Chas, I had no idea. You Casanova you, but clearly, you are a very good one and an awesome dad. Thanks for taking the time to read and respond! I hope I’ll see you at Christmas! xo

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