Aunt Esther came to me in a dream this week.
She was as real my mind could conjure.
I was in the those early-sunrise hours, where random ideas and sounds and people dance in the semi-awake mind. My alarm had sounded. Somebody was making noise out on Lawn Place. I heard the furnace kick on. NPR was on the radio.
And I had rolled over for another 30-minute snooze.
We were in quarantine, Aunt Esther and I. She was staying with me in a studio apartment. And suddenly, in my right hand, I felt her soft, fleshy skin. She said something I couldn’t make out, and then I was awake.
And in tears.
Aunt Esther had, in my memory, the softest skin that any lady of a certain age could have. I remember she would take the remnants of the egg white from an egg shell and rub them on her face after clearing up breakfast. She’d let that dry, and then rinse, all as part of her skin-care regimen.
Her hands and forearms showed no sign of really having worked the earth or toiled in labor.
And as a child, I loved holding her hand.
Truth be told, I did an an adult as well.
I’m taking her rêve visit as a sign that I am now on my 33rd day of not having touched any living soul. Handshakes will be most welcome soon. Hugs will be even more needed.
That same morning, I breakfasted on something I used to make at Aunt Esther’s neat little house on Clayton in Columbia — honey butter.
The table honey had crystallized, and I wanted honey with my toast, so I put the plastic bottle in some boiling water. “It’ll be too hot to put on toast,” I thought.
And then I saw my butter dish.
So it was that a knob of butter and some hot honey were mashed and stirred until I had a childhood treat to put on the toasted bread (supplied by my friend D).
And happy was I.