“If you are going to be in the hospital for five days, I’ll bring the sheets.”
“No, Ma,” I said. I had to undergo yet another procedure in my quest to become pregnant and I was irritable.
“Sweetface, I always had the silk and lace sheets on my bed when my friends came to visit me in the hospital. And an orchid. Your father always brought me an orchid to pin to the pillowcase. I want you to have one too.”
“That was different. They were coming to visit you when you had babies. I don’t need orchids for this.” She stopped talking about orchids and I continued having surgeries.
Then in November 1984, I gave birth to a big beautiful baby girl.
My father put down the bag, redolent of hot, spicy-sweet smells from New York’s Lower East Side, where they had stopped on the way to the hospital. We walked down the hall to the nursery, and I pointed out Alexandra, born with a full head of her grandmother’s red hair and the ability, rare in neonatals, to cry real tears.
We walked back to my room. Halvah, pistachios, and sour apricots were crowded together on my bed tray. The starched white sheets were now covered with ecru silk trimmed on either side with rows of baroque cream-colored lace.
She smiled her radiant smile, and tears sparkled in the corners of the big, blue-gray eyes.
She walked toward me, arms outstretched.
Then I saw it. The little lump of hospital pillow, swimming in lace. And firmly anchored to the top, a huge, fresh orchid, frilly white edges, vibrant magenta within.
A month later, we still had the leftovers. When friends came to bill and coo and rock Alex, I relaxed in the kitchen, rhythmically turning out these blintzes in the energized haze of euphoria and sleep deprivation peculiar to new parents. The blintzes are reminiscent of luscious palatschinken (Hungarian apricot crepes), but the stuffing—plumped tart fruit infused with vanilla and almond—provides more nuanced flavor and texture than the traditional jam filling. I scattered the leftover toasted pistachios over the blintzes for color and a pleasant buttery crunch. Later we swirled the remains of the halvah with vanilla ice cream.
© 2000 Jayne Cohen. All rights reserved.