In his kitchen, until he was unable, Grandpa carved with precision. He would cut each beef tenderloin slice into near equal widths, and the widths were thin, the way I liked them. He was equally good with turkey, but it was the perfectness of his beef plates that really pleased me. I equally loved watching him prepare apples for aromatic crumbles that filled the house with the scent of cinnamon and brown sugar. Each time Grandpa made crumble, he approached each apple always the same way, using the same knife and cutting board, and laying the apples in even layers in the same deep glass crumble dish. He could pare in one long unbroken curl so that the table increasingly become littered with red and green apple swirls which I would nibble as I watched. He always sat in the same chair at the little round kitchen table that had to be pulled out to get four around. The table tucked into the cozy nook between the refrigerator and the stove. Inevitably, a cup of hot black tea with extra sugar steamed next to him as he worked.
Appreciating Grandpa’s exceptional carving skills was a secret that Grandpa and I shared. Grandpa remarked once that I was the only one ever to comment on his carving. Although he never said as much, I could see that it pleased him that I saw he was expert. When it was time to slice, he liked it when I would come near. He would talk through the difficult bits where slicing became trickier, and we shared together the quiet triumph as he laid each perfect piece symmetrically on the platter.