Second Breakfast
~or some observations made while spending several days with my grandparents~


I got the idea to write this earlier today (June 29th, 2002) while in the garden with grandaddy. I was helping him pick purple-hulled peas, and this title came to mind. I've been a regular "poster" on TORn for a couple of months now, and especially here on Main there seems to be a variety of remarks that are somehow Tolkien related, so I hope you all don't mind. Second breakfast came to mind, not that we have them, but we do have to stop for coffee every few hours, and have a little snack, a cookie or other little sweet thing. No ale in the evenings, though, as my grandparents are good Baptists and don't drink. Gardens are very buggy places. I emerged after 15 minutes or so from picking peas covered in mosquito bites, but also having seen the biggest black and orange grasshopper I'd ever seen, several spidery-things and various other bugs I've never seen before. Yikes! But the glorious privilege of eating food straight out of the garden is not to be undervalued. Grandaddy doesn't hear well at all, even with his hearing aids. Mymable has gotten frustrated, especially so when he won't learn new things, like learning how to use a ziploc bag. This is not to make my grandfather sound like a dotard- he has a PhD and taught math for over 30 years at Louisiana Tech. And he's not at all hobbit-like, being tall and now quite thin, though he does take naps through the day. It's not specifically addressed in LOTR, but I would like to think that Tolkien intended for his hobbits to honor their elders, and although the steamy South is far from his English haunts, I think that he would have felt some comfort here.


Hobbit funerals- I wonder what Tolkien would have had to say on the matter? He respected the hobbits so much- I remember reading an extended, multi-page letter on the giving and receiving of presents and the social mores of hobbits in his "Letters" and after all that, he sent a one-paragraph response to the writer in question. So I'm sure he thought about it! He (JRRT) didn't enjoy all of the aches and pains of older age, and wrote often of his wife's failing health. He also enjoyed a good sherry or port, a nicety that my Baptist grandparents won't consider. His beloved Bilbo was not allowed to become dottering and stupid- even though in his quite old age he tends to fall asleep, the respect of the other hobbits and Elves, and Gandalf, are almost tangible. I hope that I am expressing that to my grandparents, and in this way I do not regret not having children. I have two extraordinary, loving stepchildren and if/when I get (step)grandchildren through them, I will rejoice, even though it's not my bloodline. They have been adopted by love- I honestly couldn't help myself. JRRT has that, too, in Aragorn and Elrond. I suppose essentially Elrond is a surrogate stepfather. Oh, those blended families!


Routines are good. They provide a format around which each day revolves. Coffee and a little something sweet in the afternoon is a great part of the routine. The hobbits would certainly approve! Of course they might prefer ale and cheese… Naps are really good, and not apologized for! I would love the privilege of napping every day! It seems that you should become more proud as you age- proud of your accomplishments, proud for living so long, proud to have experiences and advice to share. And yet I sense not a lot of that- maybe I'm wanting my grandparents to live in the past and they are doggedly living in the present. I want my grandparents to be like Bilbo in that I want them to write down their stories; I have asked a lot of questions over the years and have some great stories, but I haven't recorded them anywhere. I wish that they wanted to put them down in writing themselves, but during this trip, I found out my grandmother, who has a new purple iMac, doesn't type!


I know that Hobbiton was written as a type of utopia, a vision no longer able to be realized, even to JRRT when he was writing it. But I'd like to think of a way to recreate that community atmosphere for aged people- multi-generational, all that good stuff. My grandparents are still living in the same house they built in 1956. They live independently, and I cannot imagine anything to the contrary, but it is bound to happen. Why wouldn't the hobbits have a place like I'm envisioning? Wealthy families had huge holes with many generations- poorer ones aren't described as much beyond having actual dirt holes. I suppose all of the communities were small, but still tightly-knit. Can a person really hope to superimpose such idealistic fancies onto an everyday, mobile American reality? Makes my head spin. I'm ready for a 1420 ale…


My grandparents obviously do not live in Hobbiton, or any part of the Shire, but it truly is paradise here. We drove up to the house yesterday towards dusk only to see a terrapin slowly, slllloooowwwwlllly digging a hole with his/her back legs. My grandfather and I stood and watched for a good 10 minutes, and I gazed out around part of my grandparents' 3 acres on which they live: the garden with its tall bean poles, rusty fence and crabapple trees; the fireflies appearing in bright flashes around the ivy; the wooded wild area grown up around the metal swingset that I used to play on as a child; the majestic magnolias in the front yard that have now completely hidden the "front door" from view of the road. I walked into one of those hallowed halls of quiet under the magnolia leaves, near the trunk of one tree, alone except for a few stray fireflies. I could easily imagine hobbit children, like myself as a child, seeing how high they could climb in those magical branches, and almost began climbing myself. Is this my own Lothlorien, in a microcosm? *the next morning* Now my grandmother is back from her swim; I had coffee (first breakfast?) with grandaddy, and now I look forward to second breakfast with Mymable. I know I will cry when I have to leave tomorrow.

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