ERNIE AND ERNESTINA: Searching

It’s Friday night. Joshua calls to confirm tomorrow’s departure time for Ellis Park.

“I go to the farm market on Saturday mornings, Joshua. One vendor cooks omelets to order. Do you want me to order one for you? One for the road?”

“How about I meet you at the market, and we’ll eat the omelet there,” Joshua says. “Nine-thirty?”

“It takes me a long time to gather myself in the morning. How about ten?”

The omelet line can get long, so I get to the market early for the omelets. Then I buy two peaches, two cantaloupes, two wedges of Asiago cheese, and two loaves of Amish friendship bread. Then I order two cups of watermelon lemonade.

The short-haired woman working the lemonade booth gives me the second cup for free because I’m fifty cents short. I spend money freely at the market, and today I’ve bought two of everything — one for Joshua and one for me. I’m beginning to feel the joy of giving.

I sit on an asphalt curb under the shade of a maple tree, the goodies at my side, watching the passing crowd. Two little twin girls in short swirly skirts and sparkly pink flip-flops fling their arms about ever so freely as they follow their parents through the crowd.

Here comes Joshua, wearing a blue-plaid shirt, jeans, and a brown tweed cap. He’s put the cap on backward so it looks more like a beret. His scruff is heavier than usual. He looks like an artist . . . and I imagine him in Paris, in a tiny studio on the top floor of a time-darkened apartment building. And I? I’m his mama, visiting the city from her home in a nearby village, bringing him peaches from her orchard.

We hug, and my arms linger on his back. I hug him a lot these days, and he hugs me back. “I love you,” he says to me. And I say to him: “I love you.”

Ernie would be amazed.

No. Ernie would be hugging and calling out I love yous, too. Openness and fearlessness are catching. Love is catching.

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My writer husband’s favorite nickname for me was Ernestina, so in this 3-book memoir, he is Ernie. This is his story, our story, and my story. I invite you in.

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Ernestina

Ernestina

My writer husband’s favorite nickname for me was Ernestina, so in this 3-book memoir, he is Ernie. This is his story, our story, and my story. I invite you in.