I’ve wanted to write this story for a week now especially as it was one of the last anecdotes I shared with my daughter Alex when I visited her for the last time before she would be giving birth to her daughter, Juliette.
Alexandria and I share the same emotional tug for all things simple and tender. Now as I can only hold tight and wait for the news of our first grandchild I can take a little time to share ham sandwiches.
I noticed him in the small gathering of neighbors because whilst he was a ‘new’ old face – it was his elegance and grace that caught my attention. Groomed brown boots, pressed jeans, a crisp red, blue and white checked shirt and ramrod posture. He personified an era in Australia I feel a yearning for and that I don’t want to see completely gone in my time.
I knew he did not live in our street although I could see that he was known to and comfortable with many of the locals. It turns out that he built the lovely home next to where we were gathered, a street where a clutch of homes back onto one of the golf course lakes fed by a natural stream which stretches for kilometers.
I can imagine it is a unique and special bond which occurs and holds between neighbors who stand on bare ground and envision the homes they will create. As I observed him, happy and content to revisit old friends and exuding an open friendliness to those newer to the street, I felt my own deep contentment to be lucky enough to be a part of this wonderful village like street that has come from those original builds and just as deeply from the fresh new faces who now so lovingly call ‘Wallaby’ home.
It was a typical, laid back and welcoming gathering where everyone brings food to share and even though I love to cook and present food beautifully – I had taken a big fat break and plonked a box of Cadbury’s favorites on the food table.
There would be no such modern short cuts for the charming gentleman who had come handsomely dressed for the gathering with an oversized Tupperware container of home cut ham sandwiches. The best ones you could hope for! White bread, cut into half triangles – real sandwiches. As he was passing them around and receiving happy responses for the freshness of the bread and the delicious ham, I was gifted the warm heart tug one feels when you find yourself fully present in the absolute enjoyment of a tender moment.
When I shared this story with my very pregnant Alex, she quickly teared up. We both enjoyed the beauty and nostalgia for good days. I’m certain lots of people have ham sandwich stories – those wrapped in foil for car trips, those eaten at little lunch to beat the Queensland heat, the fancy ones without crusts and cut into fingers to make them seem more posh – but for Alex and I, we like to think of the gentle reminder of easy days brought on by the image of a kind faced, country style bloke cutting ham sandwiches in his kitchen to take to his old neighbors.